Saturday, December 30, 2006

Good-Bye 2006

So we come to the end of another year. They called this one 2006, based on a kooky religion and some bad math.

I liked 2006, I look back at it and it was a good year.

It’s easy to point out all the trouble in this world. There’s a lot of trouble to choose from. Massive 25 mile long ice drifts are breaking free and casting themselves adrift on the ocean. It’s just the start of events like this, ten years from now, we’ll see this happen more and more.

In case you weren’t aware: out planet is dying.

There are lots of other troubles, Israel is still…well Israel and Iran suddenly denies the truth about the holocaust and builds nuclear weapons. Radical religion continues to want to push us all towards a holy war. Just last week an elected US Senator suggested that a Muslim Senator, (who was also democratically elected), was a security threat to the United States.

It seems, we’ve never fully shed the Middle-Ages. I am waiting for a prominent politician to come around and challenge the notion that the Earth is round.

Ah but, 2006 was a good year. We learned more about cancer this year, than probably any year previous and we now actually have proactive means to defend ourselves from certain types of cancer.

Our knowledge of biochemistry and genetics continues to take amazing leaps. We are learning how the tissue repair process in our body can break down and form tumors in breasts and the colon. We’re learning how to isolate genetic indicators that signal that someone is at high risk of developing these kinds of cancers.

In the decades ahead, we’ll cough up some spit or a drop of blood and in two weeks, they’ll have a genetic disposition chart that will show your risk of certain diseases like an actuarial chart. You can then learn how to take preventative steps to prevent the development of those diseases. You’ll learn which types of screens and checks should be performed regularly for your genetic disposition. You can even see a Genetic Counselor if you want. By the way Genetic Counseling is a growing and lucrative field.

To those who fear anything new and different, it all sounds frightening. But what it really means is a Doctor can learn that your ten year old daughter is highly susceptible to breast cancer, merely because of certain indicators in her genes and you can take steps to prevent your daughter from developing a tumor later in life and dying. It’s a good thing. Life, health and improved understanding of how our bodies work, is a very good thing.

There were other great achievements this year, too often ignored by a media infatuated with dysfunctional celebrities and gossip.

Alternative fuels are making serious headway and automobiles are finally reducing their fuel consumption. Slowly America has realized that our addiction to OPEC Oil is a dangerous addiction, heck even the President said so this year.

Micro-Credit has come of age, a concept that is helping turn around the eternal poverty and hardship in places like Bangladesh. There is hope for the poorest and meekest on this Earth. I grant you it’s a faint hope still, but more and more various nations are fighting their way out of poverty.

New super-powers are beginning to emerge. This is a frightening thought to the xenophobic, but surely the fact that India’s standard of living is vastly improving is a good thing. They are a democracy; they have a fantastic education system and their life expectancy, economy and political influence are all improving. They have removed the shackles of the Third and Second World and moved into the First World. It’s a good thing, their growth and evolution doesn’t mean it is coming at the expense of our own.

Technology of course, grows in leaps and bounds. It is easy to be cynical about these improvements. Sadly, there are some who argue we’ve become slaves to our machines. I think its hyperbole to argue such things. I enjoy talking to my relatives, via phone, text or video at a fraction of what it cost me twenty years ago. I enjoy connecting with and finding people all over the world that share my interests and hobbies. I love the fact the internet teaches me something new every single day.

I am also a hedonist (at least part-time hedonist). So forgive me if I enjoy my new HDTV, my new video-games and my digital camera. Consumption is too often viewed as a sin. Over-consumption is dangerous, especially when it endangers our planet, but that new digital video camera you just bought should be enjoyed guilt free.

On a personal level, 2006 was fine and dandy. I finally got some financial discipline. I have stopped being a teenager when it comes to money. The accomplishment sounds meek, but for me it’s a huge step forward. My work was fine, despite severe challenges and a few internal battles. Mostly I am very proud of my work and I know what I have developed is miles ahead of the systems I inherited.

My family is awesome. My younger brother got to spend his first full year watching his new baby daughter grow. I hear my younger brother’s voice now and I reflect on who he is and where he is in 2006 and I beam with pride. You made it pal, and it looks and sounds really good on you. I could not be happier for him. My Mom spent some time in Ecuador, helping to build a community shelter and recreation facility down there. She came back saddened by the plight of good, honest people down there. I take pride in the fact, that despite the fact she’s over sixty years of age, she found the courage, strength and hard work to make a difference amongst all that hardship.

My wife and my own children are as lovely and healthy as ever. They are happy, I know this because I can hear them laughing in the other room. They are warm, they are dry, they are safe, healthy and they are well-fed. That’s not the most impressive accomplishment of all, but it is certainly the most important.

Good-bye 2006, forgive me if I try to forget all your trials and troubles. Forgive me if I ignore your terrorism, religious intolerance, racism, pollution and frightening politics. Today I celebrate the good things about being alive in 2006. Because it truly is a great time to be alive.

My only lament is the few that I love dearly in my heart could not be here to share this incredible year with us. To them I say, you live on inside our hearts, but I really wish you could have seen just how great a year 2006 was.

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