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Welcome a new year

Out with the old, in with the new.

That might not be exactly the underlying message to be distilled from the arrival of Jan. 1 and the new year, but for many this is the time to wipe the slate clean and begin anew.

This is how it’s all supposed to work, at least in theory. But life doesn’t always follow theory’s dictates. Like those who tipple too much on New Year’s Eve only to suffer with a headache, or upset stomach this morning, 2012 has left us with a hangover. From the violence and strife that has become Syria, the gridlock that has frozen the workings of Congress or the snail’s pace we seem to take to the threats of climate change, there’s much that dogs us from the past year, things that turning to a new year won’t cause to magically disappear.

And yet as gray or dismal this may all sound, the new year delivers hope.

“The object of a new year,” wrote the author and essayist Gilbert K. Chesterton, “is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”

Thus it seems to make sense that we embrace the arrival of a new year as an opportunity, to act more effectively, to bring about improvements and changes that can benefit us all.

It is as the English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “Hope smiles on the threshold of the year to come, whispering that it will be happier.”

We certainly would take happier when it comes to the new year. And so, we should resolve to make it so. Perhaps it begins with using “patience,” “kindness” and “good will” as guides. Let us learn from the past and move to meet the new year with vigor.

Happy New Year!

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