Perhaps you, as I, often think: "If only I had the foresight to know what this year holds of good or ill!" But at the same time we should know that not possessing such foreknowledge is a blessing, indeed. Christ himself, the greatest sage of all time, said: "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:34b). We can usually handle each day as it comes, surprising though it may be. It is when we try to probe larger segments of time that we become overwhelmed and thwarted from life's purposes.
With these philosophical thoughts, may you and I face the year 2008 with confidence, grateful to be alive, to be aware and eager to see what the year brings forth.
Speaking of the New Year, celebrations of the old year's passage and another's beginning have been recorded in secular and religious history for at least 4,000 years. The Spring Equinox marked the Babylonian New Year. For the Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians and Persians, the Fall Equinox began the New Year. The ancient Greeks lauded the Winter Solstice as the dawn of the New Year. When the Julian (Roman calendar) was introduced, January 1 started in 153 B. C. Now, 2,161 years later, we still observe January 1 as the beginning of our New Year. Stretching ahead of us for 2008 are the days of this Leap Year, which gives us an added day in February.
What can we expect in 2008, if the days of finite time extend throughout its length?
Another presidential election will have come and gone. We will hear promises from presidential hopefuls, weigh them on scales of political justice (if there is, indeed, such a standard for judgment), and as free Americans we will make a choice for the next president of the United States. We will hear and be aware of his or her platform and cabinet to begin in early 2009, and pray that America will be able to stand and move forward as a free nation.
Will we be acutely aware throughout 2008 that many issues face America, leader of the free world? What will be our stance in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other trouble spots in the world? Shall our military continue to be exposed to danger, death and ridicule? Will 2008, as 2007, record the largest number of deaths since the beginning of the Iraq War? (899 was the count for 2007, according to a news report on December 31, 2007) Will our country pull together, or be ever at an internal tug-of-war because the political factions cannot find common ground and common purposes?
Will we be more aware of critical issues that face our environment, like global warming and scarcity of resources of water, food and fuel? Or shall we go our incognizant way thinking that somehow the problems will resolve themselves without much change in our lifestyles and habits?
The past 100 years have brought innumerable firsts. When our grandparents or great grandparents greeted the New Year in 1908, the first great lighted ball dropped in Times Square. But most of them had to learn about it from printed reports for they could not be there in person to see the phenomenon, nor could they watch it on TV, as did we. The Boy Scouts began in 1908, the Bureau of Investigation was organized (and later was named the FBI), and the US War Department signed the first contract to produce a military airplane with Orville Wright. Oil was discovered in Iraq in 1908. This was a springboard for the building of Ford Motor Company in America and the introduction of the famous Model T. Ford. We might summarize the events of a hundred years ago by saying that we morphed from the horse and buggy age to the mechanical age, to the technological age, to the space age and to the electronic age. There seems no end to leaps of scientific achievement.
Two hundred years ago, on January 1, 1808, a law prohibiting the importation of slaves into the United States went into effect. The law was long overdue. Passage of the law did not prohibit further infringements through contraband actions or buying, selling and trading of slaves, an issue which continued until the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln January 1, 1863.
As 2008 dawns, we have what common sense tells us of foresight, although no crystal ball is available to show us the turn of events in this new year. Hindsight is a better indicator of pitfalls to avoid and good deeds to emulate. May we apply what we know of good will to the days of 2008 and live them out as happily and productively as we are able.
c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Jan. 3, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.