New year brings new opportunities

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2013

To the surprise of many a new year arrived yesterday, silencing doomsayers who had predicted the world would end on Dec. 21, based on a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar.
So onward we march into 2013, but not without taking a step back and looking at our country and our region as we close the chapter on 2012.
Violence continues to gnaw at the conscious of all Americans as even schools, once a sanctum of safety, become increasingly unsafe. The unspeakable tragedy that recently unfolded in a Connecticut school was further evidence that crime has no boundaries, no moral compass, no logic, and even the most vulnerable are at risk.
Yet God continues to be portrayed as a villain, his presence banned from classrooms. Condoms can be distributed on campus, but the Bible is prohibited.
We close the year a divided nation but unlike past generations race is not the dagger being repeatedly thrust into the hearts of the American people. Rather it’s partisan politics, with Democrats and Republicans so monolithic on ideology they have lost sight of what is best for all concerned.
Southeast Louisiana, in fact the entire state closed the year with many unresolved issues that will dominate 2013. Because of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget axe, the once-thriving LSU hospital system has been gutted, with some facilities being taken over by private firms and others, such as LSU Bogalusa Medical Center, shredded by layoffs and facing an uncertain future.
Overall, the future of health care in Louisiana will remain a concern not only because of Jindal’s budget cuts but also the implementation of Obamacare. The potential fallout from the president’s revolutionary health care plan is a blank canvas with few certain of its implications.
The River Parishes also face their own challenges in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. Many families, especially in the LaPlace area, are either rebuilding their homes or deciding if they want to return only to be faced with the potential of being flooded out again. Although promises of hurricane protection have been made, even if funds for the project are found, it will be years before the levee system can be completed.
Education also will be a hot-button topic as higher institutions continue to grapple with state budget cuts and courts and local public school districts try to make sense of Jindal’s reforms.
Fortunately, the dawn of a new year brings with it the rays of optimism. Here’s hoping for a year of prosperity, safety and unity in 2013.