Making the most of a new year

“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Whether this is an accurate quote or just the paraphrasing of a saying that has been passed down from teachers and philosophers who we have encountered during our days of classroom instruction, it is true nonetheless. And there is much to learn from this past year, both good and not so good.

For instance, we have learned that when the right individual is elected into public office things get done and done right; sometimes against all odds. Just look at what has happened in our little corner of the world resting on the shores of Lake Erie. Albany has been put on notice and the residents of Dunkirk are beginning to see a constructive transformation within our city.

In Mayville we have a new county administrator who will continue the positive changes that outgoing Vince Horrigan started. Having George Borrello taking the reins with his belief in encouraging synergy by working across the aisle will prove to be a good thing for those of us in the north county. I am looking forward to seeing what his administration will bring.

Throughout the state we have seen new leaders sworn into office, and some that we believed in have left. If there is anything history has taught us over this past election cycle, it is that every vote counts. But more than that, the reason for our vote is critical. It is often said that individuals are not necessarily voted into office, but others are voted out — this narrow way of thinking happens far too often.

Much of this past week has been spent by the news media looking backward on the happenings of 2017; I prefer to look forward. I believe we must take the good that has been accomplished and build upon it. We must continuously strive for excellence — nothing short of that is good enough. Surely, we will stumble, fall, get bruised and may at times come to know the feeling of despair. But we must get back up and continue toward the goal, lest we become mired in our failures. I believe it was Aristotle who said that excellence is not an act, but a habit; and there is the belief that something must be done 20 times before it becomes a habit, so just think about that for a minute. That means the good and the bad things we do can become habits, whether it is the language we use or the mannerisms we portray. I am not into making New Year’s resolutions, but certainly if I were, it would be to review some of my habits and weed out the undesirable ones.

Opportunities abound for 2018! If we take some time to review the happenings of our pasts, and determine to learn from them, we can make this year a fruitful one; looking inward can be painful. In the meantime, let’s also look outwardly. Let’s take time to become involved in our communities, our government and our families. If we focus on making a positive difference, we will.

I leave you with one final thought, a quote that I know to be from Aristotle that may need to be taken to heart by each of us as well as by our elected officials locally, in our neighboring communities and throughout the county as a whole; Aristotle said, “He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.” I don’t believe there are too many gods walking or working among us. We need each other on a personal, professional and community level. Just as no man is an island, neither is a village, city, or town; in this day and age it isn’t easy going it alone. Demographics and geography may set boundaries, but they need be only lines on paper.

As 2017 has come to an end and 2018 is just beginning, I wish you all a happy, healthful, and prosperous new year.

Have a great day.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to