Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012 | 2 a.m.
It is hard to dampen the Christmas spirit, no matter how hard we try.
As we head toward the end of another long, difficult and challenging year in Las Vegas, our thoughts turn, as they always do, to next year. Next year brings with it the promise of hope, of resurgence, of better times and of our continuing quest for a more perfect union.
But first, we still have work to do before all that happens:
• In Washington, a “fiscal cliff” looms large and the needs of the people seem to be cast asunder in favor of a relentless pursuit of some ideological wonderland where fact-based thinking has no logical place.
• Horror is front and center in a small Connecticut town — but only for as long as it takes for those who think the Constitution has only one amendment (the Second) to marshal their one-dimensional lackeys in the halls of power to defeat, yet again, the notion that children should live without the constant threat of an assault rifle shortening their just budding lives.
• A regime in the Middle East, led by a madman and supported by what are supposed to be some of the world’s most enlightened countries, continues to thumb its nose at the people in the rest of the world who want to be free from the threat of nuclear annihilation. Meanwhile, another Middle Eastern country’s strongman leader continues to repress his people, murder them at will and ignore their legitimate needs, all while the free world is looking on, hands held tightly behind its own back.
• Ask how, in our own country — in which the lines between the Red states and the Blue states is so bright and the demarcation so strong — can American citizens stand on either side of the line and ask the very same question: “How can they be so wrong?”
• Or how, in the most powerful, advanced and supposedly enlightened country in the world, can our own citizens even dare to question the need, the desire and the absolute necessity to provide the very best and most challenging educational system; and, yet, the debate rages on between those who do and those who don’t think that education is Priority One, choosing instead to make dumb and dumber a matter of national policy.
Yes, there is plenty of work to do before we turn the page on a new year. I am not naïve enough to believe that we will accomplish any of these big tasks before the end of 2012, but I am hopeful enough to believe we can make a big dent in the list before the end of 2013.
Hope is an American ideal. It stems from our uniquely American dream that is reached through hard work, determination, tenacity and imagination.
Yes, these past few years have challenged our ability to believe in that dream because, through mostly no conscious thought of our own, we allowed a situation to exist that crumbled our homes and crushed our dreams of a better future for ourselves and our children.
But, here’s the good part. While we may not be the exceptional nation that the political world conjures up every few years, we are a nation of exceptional people. And Americans just won’t let themselves be defeated, no matter how down in the dumps we allow ourselves to fall.
This next year will see more Americans pulling themselves out of the hole we allowed others to dig for us, knowing full well we handed them the shovel. And the better our neighbors do across the country, the better Las Vegas will do as those people scratch their itch to travel, vacation and have fun. Las Vegas is still the place on the planet where all that can be accomplished.
Enough about the big stuff, let’s focus on what’s important. While I try to find a few days to warm up over the holidays, this space will be filled with columns from the student representatives from the Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum who have been chosen by their peers to present to our generation their thoughts and ideas about practically every subject you can think of — and some you don’t want to think about!
You want an easy way to tell the future? Read these young people in the Sun over the next couple of weeks. They will tell you what tomorrow’s leaders are thinking today and you will learn not only what America’s future will look like but just how secure her future will be in the next generation’s hands.
So, however daunting the challenges of our world look to us as we head into the Christmas week, the knowledge that we have a new generation of leaders, eager to solve our problems and make our union more perfect, gives us a reason to be hopeful.
Before I leave for a much-needed rest, permit me a personal privilege. I am writing this column on Thursday evening, the day before the Mayans tell us the world will end. If that happens, you will not be reading this, at least not on paper or in digital form.
But, assuming we survive the prognostication, I want to wish my dearly beloved Myra a most happy birthday, one which happened to coincide with the presumed day on which the end of the world would occur. And without giving away the particular year in which she was born, this birthday was indeed not the end of the world but the beginning of a brand new one in which her character, her charm, her joy and her determination will lead the way for all who know and love her.
I will be the first in that line to wish her a most happy birthday.
And to all Sun readers, have a very Merry Christmas and an unbelievably happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.