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King: New year offers fresh start to fix whats broken
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A few more hours and 2014 comes to an end. Then we start all over again.

The earth has made a complete circle around the sun, but dates and years are arbitrary things. We are the ones who create beginnings and endings.

A brand-new year is a gift. We get to start over — if we wish. This is more than just making resolutions, something I don’t do because I understand my own weaknesses. A new year is an opportunity to clean the slate. I may live in a mess, but it’s a mess of my own making. I can stop obsessing about it and start anew.

We’re bound together during this season. All over the world and throughout history, mankind has watched the sun. Civilizations in the Northern Hemisphere have watched it sink lower and lower on the horizon. They have seen the weather and vegetation change. Imagine how frightening this was to primitive peoples.

Then one day it stops. The next day, and the day after that, the sun appears to be returning. It’s a time for celebration. Things aren’t all that much better. It’s still cold and dark, but there is hope.

Religions differ. Traditions aren’t the same, but the theme is. We are bound together by this circular thing. In the Southern Hemisphere the seasons are reversed, but the theme is the same: endings and new beginnings.

It is up to each of us to decide what to keep and what to throw away. There have been losses and we lick our wounds, but we have this wonderful opportunity to reassess our lives and leave stuff behind.

Do I continue writing this column? Do I give up trying to keep a garden? Do I part with the last of my deceased husband’s possessions: his fishing rods, his guitar, his chess set?

A new beginning means we get to decide what we want to keep in our life and what we can safely let go of. I want what we all want — a better world for my children — but right now the trend seems to be going in the other direction. This poor old earth appears to be sinking toward some invisible horizon. People are angry, frustrated and worried about the future.

Two news stories from last week make me uneasy: the cyberattack on Sony and an AP article about the New York subways. I see them as connected, and suddenly I’m angry about the potential for disaster, frustrated because there is so little I can do about it, and worried because it shouldn’t be this way.

The New York subways are old; their systems are antiquated and vulnerable to electronic malfunction. The same can be said for the nation’s power grid, yet very little is being done about it.

Let me remind readers what happens when there is a major power failure: The banks lock their doors. So do the pharmacies. The gas stations can’t pump gas. Things come to a standstill.

If your medications run out, too bad for you. If you need cash, you’re out of luck. Credit cards are useless. When you run out of gas, you’re stuck. And things stay this way until the power is restored.

What happens if a failure like this isn’t fixed in a few hours. What happens if it spreads across the nation?

It’s incredible that we are this vulnerable and show so little concern. I don’t remember any candidate for office talking about the nation’s electrical grid. I don’t remember any big stories in the media, or bills before the legislature. Should I let go, stop writing about these things? Should I just trust the government to fix it?

New York is updating its subway computer system, but according to the AP story, the job will take another 20 years.

Maybe I’ll keep on writing this column. At least it gives me an outlet for my angst.

Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly.

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