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Let's all resolve to make community a better place

As the year comes to an end, I think it is a natural time for all of us to reflect on the past and look to the future. Certainly many times this reflection comes by way of resolutions things we would like to change in our own lives so that the next year is better, more fulfilling and more promising.

When I reflect on the past year, I am very aware of all the good things that I have in my life. I come from a great family, I have the best wife a man could have, and two wonderful daughters. We are healthy. I live in a good community. I have a strong faith. In short, I try to remember and appreciate all of the blessings I have been given, like many of us do.

That's not to say that life is perfect. There are many days when I struggle. I tend to sweat the little things -- never a good practice -- and get too worked up over too many things. Basically, I have a long list of shortcomings. Shortcomings are another thing we can all reflect upon and try to improve for the coming year.

Sometimes, we also have to think beyond ourselves and consider our place in the community, especially our community of Western New York. We tend to be absorbed in our own lives, from our jobs to our kids to paying the bills and everything in between.

Because our lives are hectic, we can forget to think about the bigger picture. Are we doing anything to make the community a better place, full of promise and hope?

We had some horrific violence in our city this year. One of the most violent nights was when eight people were shot, leaving four dead and four injured. It was a terrible night and a terrible tragedy that garnered much attention.

What about the other acts of violence that fill our nightly news reports that get a brief mention, however tragic? I fear that although we acknowledge the big news stories, the day-to-day isolated incidents that involve only a person or two do not get the same attention because we have become immune to the gravity of our situation. I am sadly reminded of those who are murdered each week as their names are read as part of my Sunday church service.

Have we slipped into a coma-like stupor instead of acknowledging the needs of this community: the anger, despair and hopelessness? We are the City of Good Neighbors. People care about each other and want to make our city a vibrant, safe and thriving community. But what do we do to stop the senseless violence? How can we lead by example and tolerate the violence no more?

I am afraid I do not have the answers. It is a complex problem, requiring complex solutions. What I do know is that the high majority of people in this community are good and decent folks. Perhaps a way to start to solve the problems with violence and crime in our community is to go back to ourselves. If each and every one of us can embody love, peace and forgiveness in our own lives, then perhaps those positive virtues can somehow transcend to the larger community.

As the new year approaches, I am going to take the time to acknowledge the good things in my life and those things that need improvement. But I will also take the time to acknowledge my place in the community and how my day-to-day actions affect those around me. Are you willing to do the same?

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Terry Stelley, who lives in Snyder with his family, counts his blessings as he reflects on the past year.

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