Looking back at 2012, looking forward to 2013

By Pat Watson Friday December 28 2012 in Opinion
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That in-between time of year, when Christmas Day has passed and the New Year hoopla awaits, calls for reflection, both personal and across society. Was 2012 a remarkable year? Was it remarkable for you? What of value will you take away from 2012, and what will you gladly leave behind?


So much to ponder in preparation for the next step, 2013. We step into the future with a sense of direction, with a vision for this year, or we walk toward it not knowing where we are headed. The optimistic will do so nonetheless with faith that they will be well guided along the way.


So yes, build on personal advancements made in 2012 and, as usual, make resolutions to help shape up some part of one’s life in the year to come. Quit smoking. Quit using so much salt. Quit the excessive use of negative verbalization. Practice gratitude, or practice even more gratitude. Spend money more prudently. Become part of saving the planet. The choices for self-improvement are limitless.


But, looking back, what was it that had the greatest personal impact in 2012? Were you, for example, among the 76,000 elementary school teachers across Ontario who became labour activists? Are you an American living in Canada who made time to cast your vote to re-elect President Barack Obama?


How about those Americans, though? Some four years ago in this very space, I wrote of a prediction that Obama would be a two-term president. I can’t take credit for the prediction but can at least take credit for recording a friend’s confident prediction. It came out of a chance meeting with that friend, an African-American living here in Toronto, who predicted Obama would win in the first place and that he would be a two-term president. I still see how his eyes shone when he spoke of this.


I want to live long enough to see a member of our Canadian mosaic become Ontario premier or Canada’s prime minister; and not just because of his or her ethnicity, but because that person would be the best choice for the post at that time. Wouldn’t that be amazing?


But 2013 beckons. What would be your best wishes for the coming year for your neighbours, your community, your country, yourself?


Peace on Earth, goodwill to all would be a good start. Close to home, that would look like a year in which, whoever is mayor of Toronto after January 7, when embattled mayor Rob Ford’s appeal regarding his ouster will be heard, will restore dignity to the office. Even if that person is Ford himself.


In 2013, I want to live in a Toronto that is working well, where there is hope for a better future because we have concrete confirmation that our transportation infrastructure needs are finally answered. Where there is employment for all who need it. Where there is reasonable shelter accommodation for all who desire to live indoors. Where there is no welcome place for violent gangs whose only business is crime and killing. And where everyone genuinely appreciates the remarkable blend of world cultures that makes this city a truly unique living experience.


This may seem a tall order for 2013 to carry, but I believe in the energy of engaged communities. Activist groups who persistently and strategically push and pull the status quo are the vehicles for change. What 2012 has shown us is that there is a growing trend of people congregating for causes and putting their energies into creating the changes that will make a better immediate world for themselves and the larger society. The best thing any one of us can do in 2013 is to stand together with our brothers and sisters for meaningful action that will improve our lives.


The power of many is awesome, whether as a force for good or for the horrific. So what about making 2013 memorable as a force for the awesome we can affect together?


A note on when silly turns serious…


It was a story made for the silly season: a cute rhesus macaque monkey in a sheepskin coat breaks out of his cage and then out of the car containing the cage. The car belonging to the owner of Darwin, the monkey, was parked at Ikea. But this is now a court case over possession of Darwin since he is now in the care of an animal shelter, and the owner is allowed only supervised visits.


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