Happy New Year! 2014 dawns with that always-welcome sense of optimism that this year WILL be different, in a good way! This day started off bright and sunny in Washington — a good omen? — and even very early a lot of people seemed to be working on their new year’s fitness resolutions on the bike paths and jogging lanes along the Potomac River. (My running days are long gone but a walk along the river is always a good way to start the year!)
At Trinity, we have a big agenda ahead for 2014. Groundbreaking for the new Trinity Academic Center will take place in the summer. Many new academic programs are launching this year. Our decennial Middle States Self-Study will take shape this spring. Recruiting is well along for the Class of 2018 who will join the Trinity family in September.
With much work ahead, I am always so grateful for and confident in the talent and creativity of the Trinity faculty and staff to work to achieve our goals. I am also deeply grateful for the magnificent generosity of Trinity’s many generous benefactors who support our students and help us to meet our critical institutional goals. And my thanks always go out to our students whose ambition and sense of challenge remind us every day why we chose this most important of all life’s work — education to improve lives and our society.
Beyond Trinity, in the city, nation and world, we can all hope for some improvements. Since New Year’s Day indulges us in wishful thinking, here are a few of my fondest wishes for the world beyond Michigan Avenue:
- Let’s foment a citizens’ revolution against continuing gridlock in Washington. Whatever our policy disagreements, we all must come together to insist that our elected officials must do the jobs we pay them to do — NOT shutting down the government or conducting endless witch hunts through the Congressional committees, but rather, enacting sensible laws and policies that actually help people.
- Let’s insist that government restore a sense of service to people in need, and reject the utterly warped and selfish idea that public support services are some kind of scam, that people who are unemployed or living in poverty must be in that condition because of personal moral deficiencies rather than because of corrupt policies and practices that foster shrinking jobs to build corporate wealth and that widen the wealth gap among individuals.
- Can we talk about the needs of the marginalized people of our city and region with at least as much fervor as we devote to the dismal disappointments of Washington’s football team? Really, wouldn’t it be amazing if the local newspapers and broadcast media gave equal time to, say, the impact of adult illiteracy on the reading scores of children in the DC Schools, or the fact that the serious lack of equal opportunity in sports means that girls in DC won’t get the college scholarship opportunities that are available to boys —- or to wealthy girls in the suburbs who have access to competitive soccer, lacrosse, tennis, swimming, softball, volleyball and other Division I and II college sports that carry scholarships?
- Let’s call for an end to all of the politics and divisiveness over school reform. Our students at all levels need more emphasis on their needs and less time wasted on political scorecards. See my comments on this in my “What’s In, What’s Out: 2014 Education Edition” blog on the Huffington Post.
- Let’s pay more attention to what Pope Francis I is saying — he is the most accessible pope in history, his writing and rhetoric are easy to understand, and his call to action for justice is clear. He calls all of us to pay more attention to the poor of the earth, to live more simply and share more of our wealth with those in need. Simple lessons, yes, but hard lessons for so many to hear.
Finally, we all need to take time each week when we turn off the computer and TV, hide the cell phone and just spend some time reading, thinking and enjoying the natural beauty of the world around us. As much as I try to stay on top of everything happening through daily scans of all kinds of media, there are times when I find that the best thing I can do is just turn it all off and reflect on what’s really important. Finding a sense of peace and quiet amid all the chaos of modern life is, for me, one of the most important factors in sustaining stamina, perspective and the ability to exercise a modicum of good judgment each day.
Over the Christmas holidays I enjoyed a few days on the Eastern Shore. As we begin another new year together, this short video provides a few glimpses into the peaceful scenes that I resolve to enjoy even more often in the months ahead:
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