Hope for change

“Perhaps we cannot change the world, but I do not want the world to change me,” said Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, Nobel Prize winner and author of 57 books. That is my mantra as we head into a new year of ominous challenges and exciting opportunities. My words and deeds shall also be informed by a corollary, the serenity prayer: “Grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”

Research shows that happy persons tend to have realistic expectations. As we feel the increasing weight of the world’s complexities, complications and conundrums, we must resist the temptation to feel disempowered. We must be wary of self-fulfilling prophesies: to feel helpless, to be helpless.

We can realistically expect to help ourselves and the many we influence. Those who lead lives of community service should commit themselves to self-care as it expands their capacity to care for others. Self-neglect, conversely, disables caregivers. Most of us are uniquely qualified to care for ourselves (nobody else can do it better) and we can do it conscientiously because it’s an investment in the collective welfare.

I’m more selective than ever about how and whom I help because experience has taught me that the road to hurt is paved with helpful intentions. Trying to save people from themselves feels a lot like foolish enabling. Thus I’m disinclined to help folks who are able but unwilling to help themselves. Equal partnerships tend to be healthy partnerships, so meet me halfway. Those who’ve “done” me appear infamously on my “been there, done that” list. Because do me twice, shame on me.

I shall continue to live by realistic daily “to do” lists as I seek more organization, stability and sanity in my life. Hopes and dreams become plans when we map them via written agenda. I shall continue to heed the call of financial advisor Suze Orman to “live below your means.” Because stuff happens; it’s predictable and inevitable. And saved money can save the day when the stuff hits the fan. It’s never been more important in a free society. How much equal justice can you afford? If you’re sick, how much more life?

My retirement plan is to die first. If life is too expensive for working families, it’s way beyond the reach of retired freelancers.

Now don’t be telling me not to get angry. I stay angry because I figure it’s healthier than the emotional roller coaster most people ride. Simmering anger may be the only thing that keeps my blood flowing. If it threatens to stop, I can afford to seek help thanks to the Affordable Care Act and kynect, Kentucky’s online insurance exchange, the model implementation of which brought accolades to Gov. Steve Beshear and the tech-savvy team that implemented it.

This is why I hold the Governor and my dog in the highest esteem: they never lie or hurt my feelings and they want me to live.
Beshear will deliver the State of the Commonwealth Address to the Kentucky General Assembly tonight, at the end of day two of its 2015 regular session, as he begins his last year as governor and secures his legacy as a steady hand amid austere times. He’s emerging as a leader of remarkable finesse. Last November, as Democrats were licking their post-election wounds, he announced that Crit Luallen would succceed lieutenant governor and former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, who would work in the White House as President Obama’s liaison to the nation’s mayors. The symbolism was breathtaking and unmistakable: two of Kentucky’s most admired political leaders are Democrats; the party is alive and well.

The fact that Democrats maintained control of the state House is a blow to Republican Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul, who was counting on Republican majorities in both chambers to permit him to seek reelection and the presidency on the same ballot. Now he’s pondering non-legislative options, oblivious to most Kentuckians’ antipathy for a dual run, which is kind of like publicly courting one’s wife and mistress.

We’ll keenly watch this 30-day session, which reconvenes in February after four organizational days this week . For the sake of happiness, we’re keeping our expectations realistically low. The best we can hope for is a bill to meaningfully address the heroin epidemic. Long-overdue comprehensive tax reform isn’t on the horizon and any effort to fund the state’s multi-billion-dollar pension liability seems too big to succeed.