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From the Editor

January 1, 2009

JANUARY

From hemisphere to hemisphere, there are so many different traditions regarding the coming of the New Year.  For many it’s a time to make resolutions, a time to wish for long life or follow rituals for our luck and our health: it is a time to negate the mistakes and misfortunes of the past year and to positively move forward with the next.

New Years, for certain, is a marker of change, but does that change really mean more than writing a different date on our checks? The state of America, and that of the entire world, has made me reconsider this tradition like never before.

The United States will get a new president this month, and while Barack Obama’s policies, idealism and most basic identity represent a potentially real change for this stumbling nation, the year we are leaving behind us will leave a permanent stain on the fabric of the country.

The media has turned its attention lately to just what kind of problems the new president will inherit along with his seat in the Oval Office.  As much as we like to think about the new year as a new start, New Years will not make the two wars go away, nor will it dissolve the $700 billion in bailout debt our generation will be paying into old age, or set right all the foreclosures and job losses that hit America square in the jaw in 2008.

A change in attitude is what’s both needed and achievable: as TasDil described in his article last month, despair over the economy won’t pay the bills.  There is no doubt that, even as they celebrate the coming of the New Year, all people and all nations of the world will have major handicaps going into 2009.  But is this any different from any other year, big as our current problems may seem?

The weight of the year we “leave behind” is the same burden that threatens to break our backs in every succeeding New Year.  2008 will leave a stain on the very fabric of the United States, but only in the same way that every year has since 1776.  And though it may not be pretty, and it’s certainly seen better days, that fabric is still holding up.

The real solution to our annually inherited problems is repeated so often it’s become clichéd: those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.  I would add to this, however, that mistakes can be an important part of learning.  It is advice that is relevant to all twenty-somethings as we become independent and establish our place in the world.  The whole world, as 2008 has shown, runs on trial and error.

— keito, the Editor

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