Looking Back at 2007 – A Reality Check

The last year has been a reality check of sorts for most Americans. We have learned that indeed the economic laws of the universe have not been suspended by our lust for more (aka the mortgage crisis/housing bust). We have seen that extra low prices (aka cheap toys from Asia) has its price (think toy recalls and outsourced jobs).

Record oil prices point to a world where energy will become the battleground for the future. The world is facing ever increasing demand with a limited supply. How we respond in the next few years will have a profound impact on the next 100 years. I hope we see more than just political photo ops about this issue in the years ahead.

War is messy and you should count the cost before ever engaging in one. All you have to do is see the increasing number of war casualties and injuries to realize this historical reality. The Iraq surge reminds us that war is seldom over quickly.

The U.S. immigration debate in Congress reflects a divided country that is facing difficult issues to solve. All sides have valid arguments. But what we really need are imperfect solutions that we can all embrace.

The drama surrounding the 2008 presidential election has produced some surprises and revealed a high degree of voter discontent boiling beneath the political surface. The question remains, “Are we dissatisfied enough to demand revolution or just a different suit on the same ole political process?”

The Va Tech shootings remind us that even the young are vulnerable to tragedy. We can never take tomorrow for granted. It points to deeper fundamental problems in society where breakdowns in self identity, family health, community and morality have created an environment where young people don’t know how to process through their rage, fear and personal struggles. The story also reminds us that we are responsible for our own actions. Sometimes we can become the enemy if we listen to the wrong influences and walk down dark paths. The Omaha mall shootings point to some of the same concerns.  

The forest fires, snow storms and natural disasters around the world point to a planet that is constantly in flux. We as stewards must do a better job of protecting the planet and using natural resources in responsible ways.  

Unrest in Pakistan remind us that global issues are important. The world has many hot spots. USA is not the center of the universe. We should be aware that our actions and the actions of other countries  can have worldwide impacts.

At the same time, we see that our infrastructure at home needs to be addressed. Overcrowding of U.S. ports and congestion on highways points to future growth and trade limitations. The collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis raised questions about the safety of U.S. bridges and roads. Many of these structures were built years ago and were designed for less traffic than they accommodate today. Can we really afford to pay for necessary infrastructure repairs at home if we are off saving the world?

collapsed during the evening rush hour on Aug. 1, killing 13 people and injuring about 100. The disaster fueled concern about possible structural flaws in other bridges nationwide.

Okay, maybe not everyone has nuclear weapons in the world. A U.S. intelligence report concluded that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003. This has raised questions about what other things politicians and military leaders are paranoyed about that might not be a problem in the future.

America always new it had some bad apples in politics. This year the scandals, resignations and mudslinging left even more voters apathetic about Congress and the Bush administration. Just so we don’t forget that greed and desire for an edge extend beyond politics, there was the Mitchell Report that confirmed the degree of drug abuse by professional baseball players, including some of the biggest stars in the sport.

Of course, there was this year’s slew of celebrity stories that received far too much attention in my opinion. From rehab problems to the bizarre events surrounding the death of Anna Nicole Smith, America seems obsessed with news about famous people. Why? I think this reality is just as much an indictment of America as its celebrities.

I agree with what one journalist wrote. Mike Bailey, managing editor of the The Courier Newsin Elgin, Ill., wrote, “Anyone who picks the Anna Nicole Smith story in the Top Ten should be beaten with sticks.”

Then there are the stories that should have received more exposure, such as, the military crackdown in Myanmar. One of the problems is that these stories are so far from our understanding as Americans that we don’t even know how to process through them even when we do hear about horrible atrocities going on around the world.

AP’s Top News Stories of 2007: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jn5ezyBjgKHdk7p9Hh79JddC6wvQD8TLBI4G1

Top Discoveries of 2007: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/12/071213-top-discoveries.html

Best Songs of 2007: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/17601363/the_100_best_songs_of_2007

Top 10 Missed Stories of 2007: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4101

Time‘s Top 10 Lists from 2007: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/top10/article/0,30583,1686204_1690170_1691130,00.html

Most Peculiar News Stories of 2007: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22218865/

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