Archive for Monday, January 1, 2007

Changing times

Change is challenging, but not all changes are for the worse.

January 1, 2007

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Remembering to write 2007 instead of 2006 on our checks will be a minor inconvenience compared to the many personal and global changes we will be asked to cope with in the coming year.

The world is moving so fast and changing so quickly. It's hard to keep up.

On a personal level, many individuals and families are facing the need to reassess their lives. Careers they thought would last them a lifetime are becoming irrelevant. Financial means may not be keeping up with demands, and there is the ever-nagging pressure to prepare for a retirement that may or may not include income from Social Security.

On the local level, the city and county face an uncertain growth picture. Census figures showing that Lawrence was growing far slower than earlier thought were successfully disputed this year, but they are a reminder that healthy growth is anything but guaranteed. Residential expansion continues, but will the real estate market continue to be strong? Will the city be able to attract enough business to support the tax base it needs to supply the infrastructure and services Lawrence residents have come to expect?

At the state level, officials weathered a difficult storm over funding K-12 education, but new issues lie ahead. A series of political shifts on the Kansas State Board of Education has resulted in a number of unsettling changes in the state's education policy. It is hoped the seating of a new board later this month will set a steadier course for Kansas schools. Our governor will start a new term and it will be interesting to see what sort of mark she seeks to make on a state that overwhelmingly returned her to office. A new attorney general will take his seat this month and perhaps bring a more consistent and professional style with him. His predecessor will be seeking new challenges and likely new headlines in Johnson County.

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of our changing world is occurring far from our shores. And yet it has the potential to impact all of our lives. Did we ever think we could be nostalgic for the Cold War when enemies and superpowers were well-defined and at least somewhat predictable?

No nation - not even the United States - has the power now to dictate a new world order. There are too many wild cards, too many wild leaders willing to act unilaterally to further their individual causes. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. The situation literally changes from one day to the next. As a nation and a world, dealing with those changes will require flexibility, patience and creativity.

A new year is a traditional time of change, not just in the calendar, but in personal goals and habits. As much as things change, some things stay the same. It's still important to let such virtues as civility, honesty, humility and kindness guide our everyday lives. Facing such a fast-changing world isn't without challenges, but change isn't always bad. Often change pushes us to find more creative paths or more thoughtful solutions.

To our world, our nation, our state, our city and all of our readers and friends, we wish you many changes for the better in 2007.

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