I have a suspicion that if everyone was asked for their thoughts on this past year, “good riddance” would be near the top.
And with good reason. After all, 2008 was characterized by seemingly never-ending campaigns, cringe-inducing gas prices, continuing wars, and severe economic pains which continue to worsen  with some natural disasters thrown in for good measure.
It seems, though, that we say this every year. In my limited life of 19 years I can’t really remember any year where everyone generally agreed things went pretty well. Even the most celebratory New Year’s I can remember (party like it’s 1999) was dreaded by some (exploding computers, nuclear meltdowns and Armageddon, Oh My!).
My generation has come of age in the post September 11 era. Our concept of a good year is no terrorist attacks and fewer war casualties. Perhaps this is why I’m inclined to say this wasn’t as bad of a year as everyone thinks it was. I’ve come to expect more political instability and general global mayhem than perhaps my parents’ generation does.
Many positive things happened this year. It was a good year for Kansas. The state was recently awarded a contract for a bio and agro-defense facility near Manhattan, which will bring jobs to the state and other benefits to the state.
The University of Kansas Men’s Basketball team became national champions. I’ll put that on the plus side but if you don’t want to, don’t feel bad…you have Bill Snyder.
Nationally, Barack Obama was elected the first bi-racial president. Before you call me a liberal and a socialist (if Carlin had a done a routine on the seven words you can’t say in McPherson, those two would have made the list) we should consider the implications of what his election means.
Regardless of your politics, his election represents a step forward in race relations in this country as well as an encouraging sign that young people are willing to engage civically. These are two developments which we should all celebrate. Indeed, electing a non-white to a presidential or prime ministerial position is something that many European countries have yet to do.
And the election provided a momentary national escape from growing economic despair.
In McPherson, the year provided a mixed bag. Negative attention was brought to the community in cases such as the baby placed in a trash bin and the trial of Jeffrey Nelson.
But other developments, such as the library and YMCA expansions as well as the trolley proved to be positive developments.
Did bad things happen this year? Did good things happen? The answer is yes.
Will bad things happen next year? Will good things happen? The answer is yes.
I don’t think we celebrate New Year’s to celebrate the past year. No, I think what truly draws us to this holiday is hope.
It’s a hope that says that maybe, just maybe, the new year will be better than the one that was.
A hope that says that ultimately this, too, shall pass.