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Carroll County Times Opinion

Much we can improve upon in 2015

The winter solstice is but one of several dates that have been used as the start of the calendar year.

The ancient Romans made March first New Year's Day. Around 152 BCE they changing it to January to coincide with the terms of their consuls. The ancient Babylonian and Hebrew calendars began with the first new moon after spring equinox. Before the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582, medieval Europe used the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, to mark the start of the year. And just to make things a bit more complicated, the Jewish ecclesiastic New Year, Rosh Hashana, falls in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, around the beginning of autumn.

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No matter what time of year the New Year began, people have used it as a time to promise to improve themselves or the lot of those less fortunate. Seeing as there is a fair amount of improvement our society could make, I propose a New Year's resolution for our country. We resolve to respect the dignity of all people. There are many ways to go about achieving this.

Throughout the year, stories of violence dominated the news. Ray Rice and Janay Palmer's troubles may have been the most sensational case of domestic violence in 2014, but theirs was just one of 10 million cases of women and men being victimized by their partners. We resolve to eliminate this epidemic of domestic abuse, costing our country more than $8.3 billion each year in medical expenses and lost productivity.

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The relationships between citizens and police were stretched and in several cases broken this year. The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York triggered protests across the country, some of which turned ugly and violent as members of poor and minority communities charged that police unfairly target them. The situation reached the breaking point 10 days ago, when a homicidal maniac shot two New York cops to death. We resolve to improve relations between police departments and minority citizens. Technology like equipping all police with video recorders will help, but improving communications will help more. Those taking to the streets also need to restrain themselves from violent behavior.

Thirty-five states now have legal same-sex marriages, while 15 have discriminatory constitutional amendments prohibiting marriage equality. We resolve to remove those barriers and to extend the dignity of marriage to all. A half-century ago, the Supreme Court removed the barriers to interracial marriage. It is time for the court to affirm that right for all Americans, regardless of whom they partner.

There is dignity in work, and everyone working full-time should earn a living wage. We resolve to honor the dignity of work by raising the minimum wage. The lifetime value of a college degree is almost $500,000 greater than a high-school diploma. But far too few high-school graduates are prepared for college. And for far too many, the cost of a college degree is prohibitive. Over the past 10 years, college tuition has gone up almost 80 percent, more than twice the overall inflation rate. We resolve to educate our youth to be competitive in the world market. We further resolve to eliminate economic barriers that keep students from attaining all they are capable of.

America is known for the commitments it keeps. We are bound by treaty not to torture prisoners. It does not matter that extremists in other parts of the world behave like barbarians – our consciences dictate our actions, and so we resolve never to torture anyone under American control.

We have plenty of work, difficult work, to do in 2015. The new year will be busy and filled with challenges. Let's make it healthy, happy and prosperous. I wish you all the best in the New year.

Mitch Edelman writes from Finksburg. Email him at mjemath@gmail.com


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