2010-01-21 / Sam Bari

The year that would not end

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

As difficult as it may be to believe, five years have passed since I began writing “You can’t beat a system you can’t understand” for the Jamestown Press. This is my 261st column. My heartfelt thanks goes out to the many faithful readers who have taken the time to write kind letters filled with words of support. They are much appreciated.

So — we survived a tough and challenging year, one that threatened to never end. We fought for survival in a struggling economy and managed to stay alive, despite a multitude of health care issues. We also dealt with the difficulties of a new administration trying to find its way.

We have an economy that hasn’t improved much, a health care debacle that is still “debacling” and an administration that is stuck in the throes of extinguishing long-burning fires.

In addition to the expected day-to-day hurdles, problems of mammoth proportion have confronted the country, as well as the world. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes of continuingly increasing ferocity have spawned tornadoes that wreaked havoc beyond description. Earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides, floods and volcanoes have plagued some of the poorest nations.

The world was experiencing “global warming,” which was relabeled “climate change,” which in reality translates to really poopy weather. Without a doubt, 2009 was a weird 12 months, and not exactly the way we wanted to close the decade.

Nonetheless, we managed to address the lighter side of a few issues that may have gone unnoticed. We talked about the unrelenting onslaught of “business speak,” that esoteric language designed by the financial community that they use to confuse us while they fleece us of our money. We compared life in today’s America to that of bygone eras, discussed crazy laws that refuse to leave the books and marveled at the price of justice.

We even took an occasionally serious stance and discussed how we, as a nation, must stop apologizing for our American culture and way of life.

Doom and gloom aside, there is a proverbial light at the end of our troubled tunnel – and that light is not an oncoming train. Yes, we are supporting two wars with priceless lives and money we can ill afford. Yes, unemployment has reached unparalleled heights, and every month, we fight tooth and nail to gather the rent and pay the bills.

However, with all of the seemingly devastating challenges that would break the back of most nations, we have survived. And that little light tells us that we survived well. We are still the most obese nation on the planet, so lack of food does not seem to be at the forefront of our “we are so hard done by” agenda.

Nothing stopped. We still have gas, food and electricity. Our hospital emergency rooms are open, and we can call 911 when we need help. We celebrated our holidays in style, and Super Bowl XLIV will be played on schedule.

Not only have we survived, but the American people have also continued to find the resources to offer assistance to those who are not as fortunate as we are.

We can proudly say that we have never turned down a request for help by those in need, even if they were our enemies. When humanitarian aid was requested, we have always put political and cultural differences aside and offered a generous hand — without question.

There is a lot to be said for that. Few nations can make that claim.

None can say that they have offered more than the U.S. when trained personnel, funds, supplies, food and medical aid was unavailable. We came to the rescue – and often without much thanks for our efforts.

On that note, I’m going to look at the upcoming year and subsequent decade with optimism. Although sluggish, the economy is far from dead. The store shelves will continue to be filled when they are empty, and mall parking lots will have few spaces to spare on Saturday and Sunday.

Nobody ever said that being an American was an easy task. It is not. We as a nation have set our standards high. Maintaining those standards requires intelligent planning, hard work and faith, an area where we have never fallen short.

Our nation was built on faith. For that reason alone, we shall prevail. We have faith in each other and faith in a system we can’t understand.

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