Some Things Can Change, Are You Letting Others Stay the Same?
By Ryan Schwertfeger
I believe that 2015 will be a year of great and noticeable change. Not because of New Year’s resolutions, as I believe you shouldn’t need to wait for a new year to make a change. But overall, there’s something going on—or maybe I should say not going on—that we should all take note of.
Personally, at the opening of 2015, I feel that this will be an excellent and important year. My widowed father is getting remarried. By May I’ll be halfway through my college journey at Waynesburg University. Amazing progress is occurring with Great Oak Park, and I’m anticipating word by year end as to whether a dog park can be approved for the property.
Throughout Oakland, there is progress everywhere. Work finally seems to be happening on the Van Allen House. The walking path around the recreation fields will become a reality in late spring. Sewers won’t come this year, but substantial movement in that direction is likely this year. Some channel work in the Ramapo will probably occur to restore the river’s health. Of course, I am not blind to the fact that traffic (see my previous essay here), flooding concerns, and taxes will still be issues this year and beyond, as well as other challenges Oakland is facing.
Nationally, there’s a new majority in the U.S. Senate, and while the President can always veto legislation, the chances of greater cooperation and legislative action are higher than existed previously. This means that debates about important issues should be more lively and meaningful, with new priorities and constructive discussions as our government seems it will finally inch closer to properly functioning as the Founders intended when writing the Constitution.
This review of reasons for optimism about 2015 is not meant to lead to any endorsement of a particular policy idea or even a candidate running for office. Rather, it is intended to emphasize that, as in all these cases, getting things done requires a lot of time, effort, and planning before any results can be seen. Government processes and major projects, in particular, don’t move quickly. Even though we live in a fast-paced area and have hyperactive lifestyles, the things we care most deeply about can’t happen or change overnight.
That leads me to my main thought. What are we –as individuals, family members, community members, New Jerseyans, and Americans—working on, or at least starting to work on now, to improve our future down the road?
It seems, especially as of late, that so many things planned and worked on over the past few years are finally coming to fruition. But while this list of nearly achieved projects was fairly easy to rattle off, identifying what we are doing now to plan for our future seems a much harder question to answer.
Have we lost our way in this regard? I’m not sure. Each of us still has a unique set of dreams and ideas of what we want to see happen. Yet it appears to me that our ability to find a person or people who can take a leadership role and move ideas forward is decreasing.
“We” complain about elected leaders not representing us well, but then nobody wants to become active or step forward as an alternative choice. “We” complain about taxes being too high, but nobody wants to accept any cuts in services or benefits. “We” want a family matter to be resolved, but nobody is willing to take charge, speak the truth, and be the mediator who can ease the tension. “We” think that our lives are missing something deeper, but we don’t go to church or synagogue or even talk to a really close friend or family member to ask key questions and seek answers. These are the things that stay exactly the same every year.
We all want things to change, but yet we tend to look elsewhere, rightly or wrongly. We look for someone else to fulfill our dreams, goals, or ideas because we are too busy, too scared, or too worried to take action ourselves. Granted, sometimes attaining the desired result does rely on someone else, either here on Earth or a much higher power. But without that motivation, leadership, and drive to make and see a difference, we will always end up disappointed day after day, week after week, and year after year.
So I encourage you to join a local board or committee or even a community or church group, to recognize the value of your family and friends by investing more time in them, and not to just write down your goals but to start working on them. The same goes for our leaders: don’t just say you want to do something, show us how you are going to work on it! One may not see results this year or even next year, but if we don’t start something, how can we expect to finish?
As the great motivational author Dale Carnegie wrote, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”