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A reminder to reflect and look ahead

We’re only a few days away from Christmas, and about 12 (or 13 depending on when you’re reading this) from the beginning of a new year.

The last 11 months or so have shown us a lot about our nation, highlighting the divisions and the dangers we face and must work to overcome in the years ahead. This year has sent challenges of varying degrees to all of us. It also has provided us with opportunities to learn, and hopefully we have done that and will continue to do so as we move into 2021.

During the spring months, as West Virginia issued its “stay-at-home” orders and then the “safer-at-home” orders, we all found ourselves limited in what we could do. Going out with friends was off the table, many weren’t even able to go to work. Initially, I’m sure that resulted in feelings of being trapped and bored as we were prevented from several aspects of our “regular” lives. We had adjustments to make. Did we also take time to reflect?

Maybe we began to look at our lives differently, realizing the things that truly are important for us and what we just want to have in order to fill a spot or keep us busy.

Did we try to spend more time with our immediate families, or find new ways to keep in touch with friends? Did we read a few books or maybe learn something new with our time?

The ideas of materialism and obtaining “strength” or “power” or “wealth” have been ingrained in much of humanity’s history. While I’m not opposed to having some things, in the end, they don’t matter.

Our politics are focused on which “side” has the control over the nation. It doesn’t matter if what they want to do is right or will benefit the country, only that they can prevent the other “side” from doing what they want.

We’ve closed ourselves off from the idea of learning, instead going through life with the idea of “I’m right and you’re wrong.” It doesn’t matter if the thoughts of someone else might offer another solution, we don’t want to hear it because it’s not what we’ve always believed.

Sometimes, though, we have to be willing to open ourselves up and see things from someone else’s perspective.

More than 2,000 years ago, we are taught, an individual was born who, in his approximately 30 years of life, would change the lives of various people in the Middle East through his teachings and example. Those people would take what they learned and spread it through Europe and Africa, and then into Asia and eventually the rest of the world.

There’s still a great deal of uncertainty in the months ahead. Vaccines to the virus are starting to make their way into the world, but will things be the way they were before the pandemic? In some ways, we may find ourselves having to rebuild what we have lost. Perhaps, though, this also is a chance to find a new path.

Don’t sit around moping about what you don’t have. Find a way to make a difference, either in your own life or the life of someone else. Learn something new. Donate your time to help others in your community.

Life should be about quality, not quantity. We may still find ourselves with more free time than we are used to as we head into 2021. What are you going to do with it?

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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