With the passing of each year, we often spend time reflecting on the past and looking forward to the New Year. 2012 brought many challenges for our country, including natural disasters, economic uncertainty and national tragedies. While our nation has seen its fair share of pain and struggle, we’ve also witnessed some of the most heartfelt acts of kindness. When Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast earlier this year, Americans across the country joined together to bring relief to storm victims. Likewise, when our precious school children were senselessly gunned-down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the whole nation took notice by offering prayers and resources to assist those affected by this horrible tragedy. If there is one thing the American people are known for, it’s our resilient spirit and unwavering resolve to stand united amidst the greatest adversity.
Some may ask why all this has to happen. No one will ever know. But one thing is certain—it is a gentle reminder to steward our time wisely and never take the many blessings of life for granted.
As we ring in the New Year, many of you will undoubtedly attempt to fulfill a laundry-list of resolutions. Some are as simple as remembering to take out the trash or adopting a healthier lifestyle. Others, such as liquidating debt or starting up your own business, may require strong discipline and perseverance. Although committing to self-improvement and reaching new goals in 2013 is commendable, this year I challenge you to think outside the box.
New Year’s resolutions are made by millions of Americans each year; however, very few actually make the necessary sacrifices to see their dreams become a reality. More often than not, these dreams and lofty resolutions only affect us. What if we decided to do something different in 2013? Along with our resolutions to become a skilled hunter or a successful small-business owner, I wonder what our communities would look like if we all committed ourselves to the same resolution—to serve others and add value to one another’s lives. In light of the recent mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., there has been a renewed call to enforce tighter gun laws among several state and federal lawmakers. However, I believe the issue goes much deeper than simply implementing stricter gun laws.
Many hurting people are crying out for us to love them, but are we listening? Do we stop to help when we notice someone in need? Do we provide a listening ear to the person who’s lived a life of solitude because they were rejected by their peers? Instead of simply implementing more laws, what if we chose to help the brokenhearted in our communities and became the answer for those who are hurting?
We’ve added pages upon pages of laws throughout our nation’s history, yet criminals have always found a way to circumvent them. The solutions to our nation’s greatest challenges are not cut and dry like some might have us think. Sadly, evil will always persist, even if we adopt stricter laws. These actions are only masking the real issue at hand- the heart.
Ronald Reagan once said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
When making your New Year’s resolutions this year, I challenge you to look beyond yourself and serve your fellow man. There are so many people right here in Paulding, Haralson and Polk counties that need a lending hand, a warm meal or someone to sit and visit with after a long day of work.
As Americans, I truly believe that we live in the greatest nation on earth. We are free to decide how we choose to live our lives. We are capable of the greatest love, yet can experience the greatest amount of pain. Loving your neighbor will not solve all of the world’s problems, but it is a great place to start. If we want to solve the issues of the day, we can’t solely rely on those who sit behind a resolute desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.—we must be part of the solution.
As we begin a new year, I remain committed to serving you, my friends and neighbors, at the State Capitol. I ran my election with a promise to each and every resident of the 31st Senate District to preserve the principles of limited government, lower taxes, free enterprise, individual liberties and family values. These principles are not merely resolutions that come and go with the passing of each year, but values that shape my entire life.
What kind of legacy will you leave? I can promise you one thing. You won’t be remembered by the amount of weight you lose or the money in your bank account; you will be remembered by those you chose to serve. Remember, every day is a gift—let’s choose to use them wisely.
Happy New Year! I pray that God blesses you and your families richly in the coming year.
State Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen
State Sen. Bill Heath serves as chairman of the Finance Committee. He represents the 31st Senate District, which consists of Haralson and Polk counties and portions of Bartow and Paulding counties. He may be reached at 404-656-3943 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.