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Making Decency the Theme for 2023

Back Commentary Jan 3, 2023 By Winnie Comstock-Carlson

This story is part of our January 2023 print issue. To subscribe, click here.

I think most people like to start out their new year with a resolution or two or even a hope or two they’d like to see sweep America. I’d like for all of us to start out the 2023 year by being awake and aware. There is so much going on around us, and we need to be more aware of it and how it impacts our future. The word “woke” has come into our lives in a big way. It’s a term that started out with good intentions nearly 90 years ago — it meant to be aware of prejudice and racial discrimination. I dislike the word immensely but let’s all, as a matter of course, be aware of prejudice and racial discrimination and vow to be more decent as human beings, respecting all the people around us.  

In fact, it would be great to bring decency back into the conversation in 2023. Can we just stop name-calling, body-shaming and slandering those with whom we don’t agree? Doing otherwise tears apart our country and accomplishes nothing of value. I’d love seeing all of us use the new year to form lasting friendships and partnerships, not politically expedient alliances. For example, I wish we could all tackle homelessness together as something more than just an “optics” solution. It isn’t about simply getting people off the streets and out of sight so they won’t hurt our property values or public image. Most people without shelter need much more than that: They need the restoration of their emotional, physical and mental health. They need to overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol and hopelessness. They need to be viewed as more than talking points for the people we elect. 

And speaking of those elected to office: The honor of serving should be viewed as something you do after being successful in your field of business. Its purpose is for you to share what you’ve learned and try to apply it as a public servant with the very real hope of improving the country, state and city in which you live — then to go back to your field of business. Politics is not supposed to be a lifelong, redundant coronation. In California and across the country, local, regional and national politicians play a game of musical chairs and never seem to be ready to go back to their field of business. Political positions should have a natural lifetime — but should not last a lifetime.   

Another hope in 2023 is that we’ll not only examine the root causes of crime but also punish people appropriately for committing a crime. We should also be rehabilitating them in the process. Emptying our prisons, as is being talked about, is counterintuitive. While imprisoned, people need to be retaught the importance of being honorable. They also need to learn some kind of trade so they can return to society with hopes and dreams and not get back into crime with another return to prison. My Christian faith is strong so I’ll add that some Bible study could be taught to those who share the faith. Rehabilitation is a huge undertaking, but I know it can be done. There are many great examples. 

There’s much in our world and our country that is going very, very wrong — dare I say open borders, drug trafficking, human trafficking and worse. I’d surely like to find a resolution to all these and many other challenges we face as a country and world.

At times, parts of me can feel a bit defeated at all I see and hear, and I pray a hero will come to the rescue — soon. Service may be the essential key to righting the crazy course of politics, mindless hatred and more, to making American society the generous melting pot it was designed to be.

As I write this, 10 of my family members and I are determining what we might do as a special service for others during the last few days of the year. We opted to forego exchanging presents with one another this year and instead are offering the gift of our own time in service to others. We don’t yet know what that will look like, but by the time you read this, no doubt we’ll have created a food service of some kind for the homeless.

Do you, your office, your family and your friends volunteer in your community? Every one of the counties in this magazine’s orbit — Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sutter, Yuba, Amador, Solano and San Joaquin — has issues that need to be addressed by people who care about where they live and work. 

The new year is offering us the blessed gift of new hope. Opportunities abound for volunteerism, and at all ages. Will you be a part of that delivery system?

Winnie Comstock-Carlson
President and Publisher

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