hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


December 28, 2011

Poor Tom's Almanac: Celebrate some fresh starts for a new year

I look upon every New Year as a new beginning — a fresh start. Call it every man's birthday if you wish. It's a time when we can forget about our past and look to the future with promise and conviction.

There's no magic formula. The best way to improve the world is to start with the individual and there isn't anyone alive who can't stand a little extra reconditioning, whether it's the body or soul.

Every year I sit down at my keyboard and think of ways we can better our lives and make it more palatable. Without sounding overly spiritual — and that's not a bad thing — I would be the first to insist upon prayer in our schools.

I have the greatest admiration for an athlete like Tim Tebow who kneels on the sidelines of a football stadium and offers a simple prayer to God. Maybe his actions will have a contagious effect. Kids model their lives upon star-studded athletes and if prayer is good for the likes of Tebow, then perhaps it'll do wonders for others.

Even those in the non-Christian world can celebrate a faith that's comfortable to their well-being. Once you've taken prayer out of the schools, you've diluted the very premise of our existence.

While I'm at it, is there anything wrong with saluting the flag? I visited a high school recently and was appalled to see some students refusing to take part in the exercise. A voice came over the loud speaker asking all to stand and salute the flag. Half the students obliged. The others remained seated.

When the exercise ended, I asked the teacher about the nonchalance and his answer was one I didn't expect to hear. "It's voluntary," he told me. "Those who wish to salute will stand. Others will stay seated."

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