Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Wishes and Hopes

from The Parkville Luminary

Since I’ve given up on New Year’s resolutions, let’s focus instead on some wishes (attainable) and dreams (long shots, at best) for 2010.

1. A signed health care reform bill. Sure, the bill that will emerge from conference committee early this year will be far from perfect, but it will extend health coverage to 30 million Americans. Incidentally, I have nearly equal disdain for those on both sides of this controversy. The bill’s “just say no” opponents have heartlessly forgotten the struggles of those who don’t have health insurance. However, the bill’s proponents are delusional if they really believe that this monstrosity will actually lower the deficit. Health care reform is going to cost, and cost a great deal. So, the question is: are you willing to pay more to ensure health coverage for 30 million additional Americans? I am.
2. To finally meet my Ugandan god-daughter. Baby Stephan was born as I was leaving Uganda after teaching there last summer, so I haven’t met her yet. Stephan’s mom is delaying her baptism until my family and I arrive in Kampala next summer. I can’t wait to play with Stephan, and to see the look on her face when I present her with a stuffed animal the size of a Buick.
3. Years of happiness for Ana, my Moldovan “daughter”. Ana, who graduated from Park University in 2009, is getting married to a great guy this month. I wish for her the same happiness that I’ve had in 21 years of marriage. Sadly, Ana and hubby will probably be moving away from Kansas City. Would it be selfish to wish that they could somehow settle here?
4. Republican engagement. Republicans have some good ideas, and represent a legitimate constituency. Rather than isolating themselves, and doing nothing more than opposing Obama just for the sake of opposing Obama, Republicans must re-engage in the process. Start being less obsessed with Obama’s success or failure, and more obsessed with what’s good for the country. (The Democrats were just as bad during W’s tenure, doing little more than opposing W just for the sake of opposing W.)
5. Peace in Uganda. Thanks to a $150,000 U.S. State Department/U.S. Agency for International Development grant, I will be returning to Uganda for six months next year to teach peace journalism, and to lead a multi-pronged effort to discourage violence prior to and after Uganda’s February 2011 presidential election. Preventing violence in that war-torn and strife-ridden part of the world is a tall order indeed. Even if the peace effort goes off perfectly, it may still take some dreaming to realize our ultimate goal: a violence-free election cycle in Uganda.
6. Peace in Parkville. My wish is that the top news stories of next year in Parkville are about an economic boom and record enrollment at Park University, and not about a bunch of downtown hot dogs.
7. Another Jayhawk national championship. Coach Bill Self has all the pieces in place, and KU will be favored to win it all. Still, in the rough and tumble world of college basketball, the cliché rings true—anything really can happen. (Except, of course, Missouri going to a final four).

1. Peace in Afghanistan. I dream of peace and that somehow, some way, things will start to turn around in Afghanistan, though I’m skeptical this is going to happen. I voted for Obama because I trust his intelligence and judgment, so I will support the surge, even though I think it’s a futile gesture.
2. Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and everywhere else in Africa.
3. Peace in the Middle East. Israel must permanently stop building settlements in the West Bank, and must adhere to UN Resolution 242, which calls for Israel to abandon territories acquired in the 1967 war. In my visit to the region earlier this year, the settlement issue was universally stated as the number one obstacle to peace. The U.S. must apply firm pressure to Israel--whatever it takes to get them to understand that stopping the settlements is a prerequisite to peace.

Here’s to a peaceful, healthy, and prosperous 2010 for you and your family. Happy New Year.

Be sure to visit my Peace Journalism website!

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