As year ends, hoping 2019 is much better

Looking back on 2018, it was in numerous ways similar to 1968, which a 2008 publication by Time Books described as “The Year That Changed the World.”

Reflecting on that year five decades ago, Smithsonian magazine, in its January-February 2018 issue, provided a more negative description: “The Year That Shattered America.”

Today, as people here and beyond look ahead to 2019, they have good reason to ponder how many ways that this year might be remembered. It’s reasonable to suggest that in numerous ways it won’t be remembered fondly, and comparisons with 1968’s unsettling course might even be forthcoming.

The federal government spent this year mired in partisanship and what’s been described as “chaos” in the White House. Even the current holiday season wasn’t destined to escape Washington, D.C.’s, quicksand of negativity, as a government shutdown loomed and fears erupted over the consequences of the announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and the possibility of a withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.

During much of the year the nation’s economy was booming, but by year’s end fears were entrenched over the possibility of a major economic downturn.

A dark cloud hung over the Trump administration as the Special Counsel probe continued, as well as investigations outside of that probe – focused on many of the same individuals.

Major incidents of violence claimed numerous lives, including those at a Pittsburgh synagogue and at a Parkland, Fla., school.

In Pennsylvania, including central Pennsylvania, the opioid crisis continued to cause deaths, ruin lives and tear families apart.

The state government experienced a less contentious year, but harmony isn’t guaranteed for 2019.

For counties and other local governments, especially in this region, it was basically business as usual with only occasional “bumps in the road.”

School districts had to “walk” carefully with their tight budgets.

The Altoona Area School District’s major construction and renovation project, although kicking into high gear, nevertheless remained controversial, and friction on the school board has not been resolved.

On the local business front, one of the major bright spots was the continuing revival of the downtown business district.

The announcement that Kmart would be closing was another unwelcome development.

But East End Auto Parts in Logan Township turned 50 in July and looked forward to a busy, prosperous future.

The Mirror’s special, multi-paged Blair County Proud report on Sept. 24 outlined many of the good things happening, not only in the city and suburban Logan Township but also in the county’s outlying areas.

The year 1968, which attracted much reflection over the past 12 months, was consumed by developments — including riots and student unrest — associated with the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. A presidential candidate and one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders were assassinated.

That Time publication of 10 years ago said 1968 “like a knife blade … severed past from future.”

Considering the many serious uncertainties 2018 has produced, it’s reasonable to ponder whether this year will elicit many longstanding, unflattering descriptions, decades from now, not unlike those tied to 1968.

The year now ending revealed, in many ways, why close attention by everyone, going forward, is paramount, not optional.