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OPINION: Learn something new this year; be a blessing

by Annette Beard | January 5, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

It's a new year.

For some people, that may be extraordinary; for others, it may be an overwhelming burden. For all of us, it's full of opportunities, unexplored, unforeseen.

Young people may not see much importance in a new year and may only recognize it as an opportunity to be out of school.

With the advent of 2022, all children, teens and new adults were born in the 21st century. To them, the '90s are antiquity, never mind the '80s or '70s.

For those a bit older, those may be the "good old days" which they idealize and become sentimental.

And for those middle-aged or older, the '50s and '60s are those years to remember and consider the heyday of youth.

And, defining "middle age," I remember hearing Elisabeth Elliot, author and speaker, said that 55 is past middle age as we don't know too many 110-year-old people.

So, while we may not know the termination of our days here on earth, we may need to accept that 35, 40, definitely 50 qualify as "middle age."

In the '70s, there was a lot of talk about "generation gap" -- a division too wide to be bridged between the youth and the adults of that age.

For all of human history, there have been people who make much of the differences between the young and the aged.

Almost 3,000 years ago a young king rejected the advise of the elder statesmen and followed the counsel of his peers to the detriment of the nation which was soon divided. (See I Kings 12:8.)

There are many Scriptures that proclaim wisdom with the aged (Job 12:12, Job 32:7, Prov. 16:31), but there is also counsel about gaining wisdom in youth by good choices (I Timothy 4:12, Prov. 19:20).

Both the young and the elders can learn from one another.

We err when we are so full of ourselves, our knowledge, our experience that we disdain others and fail to listen and learn.

There have been extraordinary, maybe even unprecedented trials over the past couple of years (think covid, mask mandates, travel restrictions). But, over the course of our nation's history, American citizens have faced extreme trials -- Civil War, World War I, World War II, flu epidemic, Great Depression -- and survived, even thrived.

As we enter into this new year, let us consider how we can make it better for ourselves and for others. We've seen a tremendous outpouring of compassion from community members during some of the tragedies of the past year. May it not take another tragedy for us to bless one another and not take one another for granted.

Determine to learn something new. Go meet your neighbor. Listen to someone of a different age, a different perspective than you. Find a way to give to others, even if it's as simple as holding open a door and smiling and greeting a stranger.

"Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

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Editor's note: Annette Beard is the managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years. A native of Louisiana, she moved to northwest Arkansas in 1980 to work for the Benton County Daily Record. She has nine children, six sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, nine grandsons, five granddaughters and one more granddaughter due this week. The opinions expressed are those of the author. She can be reached at [email protected]

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