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By Remy Benoit

2005 is winding down.

It has been a year of tremendous upheaval on both the weather and political fronts.

Perhaps we should pause to ask ourselves some questions about what is truly important to us.

The victims of the tsunami honored those lost.

Here so many are mourning the losses caused by Katrina, trying to salvage something, anything, of personal memories. Rising from the Ruins.

The numbers of our soldiers lost to battlefronts continue to rise.
CNN FORCES: U.S. & Coalition Casualties in Iraq.

Enduring Freedom Casualties.

If you go FORCES, you can click and see the number of U.S. Casualties since the Revolutionary War. The numbers are hard to understand, to mentally grasp.

The problems of the WIA's continue through their lives, impacting not only on them, but their families. We often forget about the Veterans. We can, and should, do better for them.

We can, and should, do better in a whole lot of areas.
Proper levee maintenance and construction would have saved a lot of homes, a lot of lives.

At present the political scene worries with the question of our basic rights, terrorism, and the all important checks and balances system that is the foundation of our freedom.

Life is choices, and each day we make hundreds of them, large and small. But each one we make determines our path, both personally and world wide.

Can things change for the better? Of course they can. It is all in the choices.

New Year's Resolutions usually don't pan out; we all know that. Despite our best intentions, other "stuff" gets in the way, habits prevail.

Perhaps the only resolution we need to make is to stop and think a moment as to whether or not the decision, the choice, we are making at any given time, is for immediate gratification, is for our own, and our planet's, long term protection.

We need to learn to choose with compassion.

We need leaders educated as to the culture and ways of other countries.

We need Senators and Representatives concerned about the choices they are making for us, for the world, not just about the next election.

We need to honor our Bill of Rights, our Constitution.

We need to honor all life on the planet, and the planet itself.

Once again, as I have said at least a hundred times here, all of it, all of it, is in the choices.

I listened to Tim O'Brien, An Index to The Things They Carried., speak the other night on CSpan 2 about truth to a young college audience at George Mason. He spoke about "truth." He spoke about truth as it is to different people, in different situations, at different times. Our truth just might not be that of someone else. If we are to lower, even one day eliminate, casualty figures, we need to learn about each other; we need to learn to listen to who is saying what, whether they be from other countries, or running for office. If you have not read this book, it would be a positive force to do so.

So for 2006, ask yourself what you can do to lower casualty figures, not just on the battlefronts, not just on the Congress floor, not just in the Oval Office, but casualty figures of poverty, of illiteracy, of bigotry, of a hundred other things we humans are heirs to.

We can change things, it is a can do thing; we just have to make up our minds to.

If the choice seems somewhat difficult to make, here are some easy guidelines. Does the choice honor these words, We hold these truths to be self-evident; does the choice do honor to you personally? Does the choice make you tense? If it does, well, it probably isn't the right choice.

This is an easy place to start with a positive choice - a click a day can help make hunger go away - The Hunger Site.

After you click there, go to Paralyzed Veterans of America. and help out a bit.

Now, what is your choice for a third step? Make it with compassion. Make it with a view to the legacy you wish to leave with your children, grandchildren, and theirs. It is about responsible choices.

It is about you lighting one little candle to help dispel the dark.



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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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