Last updated: February 19. 2013 11:19PM - 230 Views

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DOUTBLESS someone somewhere is already recalculating the day the world will end, now that the Dec. 21, 2012 has finally come and gone with the planet and humanity still intact. Maybe they forgot to include leap years. Perhaps they got the wrong start date. Or it could be that one of those little etchings on the stone Mayan calendar was misinterpreted.

The doomsdayers are entitled to their morbid, if pointless infatuation. But with the end of the world blather at an end, can the rest of us turn our attention to reality?

The reality is that the world did end for 20 first-grade students in Connecticut, in a harrowing hail of gunfire. A serious national conversation has begun about real life-and-death issues – gun control, mental illness, ubiquitous violence in movies, music and video games. Do not let it succumb to knee-jerk responses, threadbare clichés or powerful special interests. We need to build a meaningful consensus on how to curb such massacres. Remember those children.

The reality is that times are still tough, the economy still tepid and too many people still are struggling to meet essential needs. Give where you can give, help where you can help, volunteer when you can volunteer.

The reality is that governments from Washington to Jeddo, including school districts and counties, struggle with debt and budget shortfalls years in the making. We should not demand simple answers to difficult problems, nor draw lines in the sand against tax changes or program cuts; we need to step back from rhetoric and politics, and step forward to common ground.

And the reality is the biggest holiday season of the year is here, rich in opportunity. Reconnect with family, revel in the joy of youth and the company of friends, enjoy the warmth of kind hearts and thoughtful gifts, take time to simply enjoy the soft glow of colored lights, and consider the opportunity of a new year.

The world isn't over. It's waiting for you.

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