A new year beckons just ahead of us, and for some the theme now may be “good riddance” to 2020.

That sentiment would surely be understandable. This year has been unlike any other with a pandemic and a strange election and nationwide protests that stretched the length of the summer. We appear at times to be a nation fractured by strife, a nation battling itself.

There is a lot to be depressed about if we allow ourselves. Many are out of work because of the pandemic. Thousands more have died from the disease.

Yet, as the new year descends upon us, it is appropriate to step back and review a few key facts about our community, state and nation.

That may seem like a hard task, judging by all the bitterness that seeps over the nation about the recent election. The bitterness, to some extent, is understandable. Fact is, though, the election is over, and we are moving ahead.

So, it is important — now perhaps more than ever — we realize that overall, we are still a strong nation with great values set down by brave men and women many years ago.

We remain, for example, a nation where we can, if we want, congregate together and protest peacefully. Still harbor the right to defend ourselves and to bear arms. We are a nation governed by laws with a system of due process and we still hold free elections.

Does our system work perfectly? No. But it does function — most of the time — as it was designed.

The past year has delivered plenty of negative news and we all focused on it. That isn’t a criticism, but a fact. The pandemic touched all of us in one way or another. We still have a long way to go to get out the cloud of the pandemic, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Two vaccines are going out across the nation. Millions will soon be able to get inoculated with it. That is great news.

We must remember to evade the trap of falling into a paradigm of pessimism, but instead focus on the future that will surely be better than today. In the end, we must mourn those we’ve lost but celebrate the things that remain.

The new year will deliver many high-spirited revelers around the area and we would be remiss if we did not remind everyone who indulge to be prudent and safe and responsible.

And Happy New Year from the East Oregonian.

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