A very good friend of mine once told me, as I got older I would be amazed at how quickly time would progress. Weeks would pass like a day, a month like only a week and a year like it was just yesterday.
2017 will go down as a year like so many others. I, like you, would say goodbye to some who were an important part of our lives. They would help mold who we would become, and provide us with the foundations of who we are today.New life would also become a welcomed addition to our lives. It’s amazing that this new generation is being born to men and women who are the children of many who we shared our adolescence with or to offspring of their children.
I’ve now outlived both my parents and my only regret is that I never had enough time with either. My dad passed at 45 years of age and my mom at 66. The lives they lived were absolutely as different as night and day from that of mine. My parents were both first generation Americans, while both their parents immigrated here and were also as different as night and day. My mom’s were of European descent and my dad’s were of a Mediterranean culture, therefore providing an interesting combination at best.
I found my grandparents’ generation as one of the most unique times in our nation’s history to teach about as an educator. They came with what they could carry, into a nation of immigrants who shared many different languages, religions and other cultural values. They were determined that their children would have a better life than them and would work hard to accomplish that goal, no matter what the sacrifice or the cost.
My parents’ generation would carry on those values, while sacrificing more than can be imagined to insure future generations would enjoy the freedoms and liberties that their parents had longed for as they sailed to the promised land of America decades before.
I live a life today that only my parents could have dreamed of. Although I was never hungry or cold as a child, we were never of means, but lacked none of the necessities to insure our basic needs. As I said before, my dad passed at a young age, but my mother performed flawlessly to insure her three children were well cared for over those years.
As the year 2018 begins to rise on the horizon I think we should all take the time to reflect back on our past, to insure our future generations learn from some of those lessons of yesterday. Our relationships with each other is a great place to start. Treating one another with respect and dignity would be a great starting point, especially with those who are our neighbors and to those we entrust our governing bodies to.
The last several decades have provided great challenges to our nation. It is almost as if we continue to struggle with who we are as a people at times. Forgetting the fact that we are a melting pot of religions, cultures and ethnicity. I fear sometimes we have become the generation that expects too much or feels “entitled” to opportunities that generations before have never taken for granted and worked so hard to achieve.
As citizens we must stay engaged within our communities and our nation. To be contributors rather than just opportunists and consumers of the greater good of society. We must demand more from our public servants and look deeper into their motives and beyond their polished words, their political party or their well-groomed public personas.
We all have a responsibility to be the guardians of the wonderful gifts generations before us have passed onto our generation and hopefully those to come. We have that same responsibility in regards to looking after those with special needs and being the sentinels of the health of this planet we call home.
As we move into 2018 we must do so in a more unified fashion, concentrating more on actions, rather than just words. More on getting things done, rather than just talking about them. Whether it be about health care for our citizens, security for our nation or the simple condition of roadways within our own communities, we must move forward.
Yes, the world has changed, but I cannot accept the premise that our generation, or even the next might be the first to drop the baton of responsibility to maintain our position as that “Shining City of a Hill,” which former President Reagan spoke of in his farewell address to the nation on January 11, 1989.
However, if we are to maintain the coveted position in the world that I believe newly elected President John F Kennedy saw America holding during his inauguration speech of January 20th 1961, then his words continue to provide us with the proper guidance. “And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. To my fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com