New year brings clean slate

Published 5:45 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2012

American scholar William Arthur Ward once said, “Another fresh New Year is here. Another year to live, another year to banish worry, doubt and fear. A time to love, laugh and give.”

He pretty much summed up the feeling many of us have at the start of a new year. It is a time to turn the page and start fresh, with renewed optimism.

The year 2011 was long, and it is nice that we are finally seeing a new start for many things. While 2011 had many great memories, there were also many heartbreaking moments as well.

The continuing high state unemployment, dismal state budgets and most of all the horror that unfolded with the April tornadoes reminded us of how tough things can be at times.

These difficult tragedies and challenges also coincided with stories of dictators from around the world falling due to the popular will of those they suppressed. In the end, 2011 was like most any year with its ups and downs, but it also made us remember that life is precious and we should all value every second of it.

As Forrest Gump’s mother said in the movie “Forrest Gump” —“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.”

I believe 2011 certainly fit this description.

Still, despite the rollercoaster ride of 2011, the New Year rang in with a great deal of hope. Unemployment is starting to drop again in Shelby County and Alabama, as a whole, and there are signs of renewed interest in economic development for our area, which brings a lot of promise for 2012.

Also, after years of devastating cuts to state education budgets, it looks like revenue for schools might actually rise for the first time in three years. While we are not out of the woods in our state budgets by a long shot, this increase in education funding is certainly a positive sign.

There is a lot to think about when we look back on 2011, but also a great deal to be optimistic about as we shed the joys and burdens of last year and enter 2012.

Cam Ward is an Alabama state senator from Alabaster.