As I began to write this note conveying my best wishes to you for a happy and fulfilling New Year, I asked myself whether 2011 was, for me, a good year or a bad year.
And, of course, my mind quickly filled with conflicting memories of happy and sad moments, achievements and disappointments, and the recognition that every year has an ample sampling of pleasure and pain.
So how we rate the year, what final grade on the great-to-awful scale we give it, depends not so much on the objective facts, but on our disposition to emphasize the positive or negative aspects of our experiences.
I am glad to say while I encountered plenty of bumps and detours on the road to New Year’s Day 2012 I will leave the old year with gratitude and enter the new one with enthusiastic optimism.
On a personal level, the year brought with it an intensified sense of the inevitable march of time: my youngest daughter (the last of four) celebrated her bat mitzvah, the symbolic entry into womanhood, while my eldest went off to college — a very real step to true independence and emancipation. And I turned 69 with a heavy awareness of my mortality.
On a professional level, I was greatly energized by our successes in Puerto Rico, my visit to Nigeria, and a new contract with the Department of Justice to write a manual for creating an exemplary ethical culture in police and sheriff’s departments. I experienced mixed feelings of gratitude and sadness upon learning that the largest station carrying my radio commentaries (KNX in Los Angeles) cancelled our contract cutting me off from millions of people I conversed with daily for more than 14 years. My early thoughts of “hanging it up” and eliminating the demanding task writing and recording radio commentaries were short-lived and replaced by an even more demanding commitment to build a dynamic online presence through a newly designed and vastly more complex blog with written and audio commentaries, quotes, videos, images and observations (www.whatwillmatter.com). We even created our own apps for both iPhones and Android smartphones. I look forward with great optimism to the success of this venture.
The faltering economy has put the Institute under great pressure and we struggle to find donated funds, grants and contracts to meet our needs to survive, let alone expand. We hired a fund-raising consultant who, to no one’s surprise, told us we are horrible at fund-raising and that we have to find a way of inducing a much higher percentage of the folks who use and enjoy our services and support our mission to provide financial support. If you’ve read this far you may be one of those so I am emboldened to ask you to begin or expand your contributions. (This lame appeal embarrasses me but will please our fund-raising expert.)
Getting back to you … I hope your year has been a good one or, at least you will choose to remember the good things and begin to forget the bad ones. I hope we will find more and better ways to inform and inspire and serve you and that you will continue to be a force for good in this world.
Have a happy and safe New Year’s celebration.