Salt Lake magazine publisher, John Shuff

The last few years have been real downers, maybe not enough to blow your brains out, but agonizing nonetheless; even the Woodstock revival a few years ago was a bust. This year, the political discord in this country is unparalleled. The American people are nervous about where our partisanship is leading us; our government is so divided ideologically you could navigate a battleship through it. 

Symbolic of Washington’s great divide, of course, is the maligned and glitch-ridden roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, a law so tangled that when congressional members wanted to make a point by extending Obamacare to themselves and their staffs, they were sucked into a employee benefits quagmire. Many of them would agree with P.J. O’Rourke’s comment: “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”

The American people, understandably, are nervous about where this partisanship is leading us.

This was the year that New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg also decided to get into the get-healthy game by banning anything over a 16-ounce soft drink. New Yorkers said goodbye to the “Big Gulp” until this edict was overturned by the courts a few months later. Another mayor was also in the news—San Diego’s Bob Filner—who drew the ire of more than a dozen women who he allegedly groped; he resigned from office under the caveat that San Diego taxpayers pay his legal expenses. 

The past year was also the first year since 1994 that the Beehive State was not represented in the NCAA postseason basketball tournament. And another first: For the first time in history, NPR reported that 20 percent of Americans say they are religiously unaffiliated and a third of our young people say they don’t belong to any religion. National Geographic reported that the average American consumes 22.7 teaspoons of sugar daily, or 77 pounds of added sugar each year. No wonder we are a nation of obese people with diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.  

The message is clear: As a nation, we need to get our act together. We need to communicate more, eat less sugar and start believing in the future again. Here are a few resolutions that might help as we start the New Year: 

Never go to bed mad. When you and your spouse have a disagreement, regardless of who’s wrong, apologize and say you are sorry.

Never underestimate the power of love. Don’t waste an opportunity to tell someone you love him or her. Never forget that a person’s greatest emotional need is feeling appreciated.

Don’t be afraid to say, “I made a mistake” or “I need help.”

Tell the truth. Nothing so weakens influence as inaccuracy and exaggeration. Remember, your reputation is your most precious asset.

Create smiles. Our priest, Father Bryan Dalton, often says, “Remember the most beautiful thing is to see a person smiling; and even more beautiful is knowing that you’re the reason behind it.” 

Back>>>Read other stories in our Jan/Feb 2014 issue.