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Approaching 2021 with cautious optimism

As America begins its trek through the “2021 Experience,” no one should be content with just shallow, general expressions of hope that the next 12 months will be better than the year just ended.

If 2021 plays out as an anemic response to the many bad aspects of 2020, the citizens of this land will deserve the many unwanted “fruits” of that doomed-to-failure kind of undertaking.

Decades from now, 2021 must be looked upon as The Year That Cemented the Good That America Always Has Been About. Unfortunately, the fragile mood of the country at this time seems intent on delivering that unflattering latter result.

Let’s not just talk in terms of the federal and state governments and those who guide them. It can be argued that America’s ongoing problems are rooted in the towns and homes of this nation — where citizens fail to demand better representation based solely on getting the people’s work done.

In America today, there is too much blind, spineless subservience to people with questionable leadership qualities. In many cases, no matter the hypocrisy, untruths and self-serving ambitions, actions and loyalties of those in whom faith and confidence have been entrusted, those public “servants” are allowed to return to their offices virtually unchallenged.

That doesn’t mean all officeholders are bad. In fact, most are good. However, America and its states, cities and towns would be better served if people in office were exposed to much more scrutiny, rather than awe.

Pandemic or not, 2021 is a good year to embrace such thinking and for demanding a regular accounting of public service on all levels.

An important key to that needs to be the word “unbiased.”

Forget the political affiliation; limit the emphasis to accomplishment — the willingness to stand up for what is right, to cooperate, even if it deviates from leadership’s view.

Of course, there will be much more to 2021 than what will go on in the state and federal governments. As the coronavirus vaccines are administered to many millions of people, America will need a cautious return to the good aspects of life that used to be.

Along with that, communities, businesses, agencies, charities — even religions — will need to adapt to the new normal, some of which will revolve around individuals and families having to reconstruct their ways of life and financial circumstances.

There likely will be numerous failures along the way; people helping others to overcome adversity will have to be the order of the day in many neighborhoods.

Fortunately, Altoona and its environs have many people up to the task that will be at hand. Good people live and work here — people who are committed to what is right, not necessarily popular.

The worst thing that could happen during the ensuing 12 months would be for the kind and level of disrespect, friction and outright hatred that exists in some other parts of the nation to wash into this region — although there has been some recent less-than-respectful conduct seemingly geared toward promoting what this region does not want to experience.

Again, beyond an uncertain time, this is a fragile time.

The “2021 Experience” will be a time when fragility must be handled more cautiously that at any time that anyone here can recall.

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