On Wednesday, it is back to business for most of us. 2013 will begin in earnest and the challenges that were on hold for the holidays will come rushing back to the forefront.
Who will be the next superintendent of the Muscogee County School District? How will the Georgia General Assembly balance the state's $19.2 billion budget when tax collections have increased more slowly than the projected rate? Will Congress reach consensus on legislation to avoid $500 billion in sequestration cuts to the Department of Defense that would certainly be felt at Fort Benning and every other military concern in the region? These are but a few of the questions looming just beyond the calendar page turn from the last day of 2012 to the first day of 2013.
But history suggests that our community is bigger than its challenges.
In the 1970s, someone believed that Columbus' dilapidated downtown district could be revitalized. He convinced others and now we are preparing to invite the world to raft on one of the best whitewater courses in the country.
In 2000, a politician believed that Georgia's state flag should not be looked upon as a divisive symbol. He convinced others and now our school children begin their mornings by saluting a new state flag.
In each of these instances, and others, the recipe for success was the same. The conversation started with an agreement that all parties had the same goal. There were differences in opinion about approach and process, but everyone agreed that they wanted to achieve the same outcome -- making the city and state that we all call home better.
When we accept that everyone comes to the table with the intent of making our community better, even if we disagree with their specific notions, we can connect. We may fiercely disagree with each other, but we will connect as members of a common community.
When members of a community connect, they progress. The progress may take a long time to achieve, but it happens. History holds the evidence.
As we ready ourselves for 2013, let's begin the year believing that everyone with whom we share this community wants to make it better.
As Paul writes in the 2nd chapter of Philippians, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." A community that holds this common belief can not only overcome anything; it can do anything.
Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.