BY DIANE DIMOND
Don’t bother wishing for world peace in the year ahead. It is never going to happen. There will always be pockets of turmoil and terrorism. Innocents will continue to lose their lives in places such as Syria, Pakistan and South Sudan and, yes, here in the United States — in the violent, gang-controlled neighborhoods we’ve ignored for too long.
For 2015, I’m going to wish for smaller miracles — things that might actually happen, if only we could find the resolve to fix our problems.
I hope that in the coming year, law enforcement officers find themselves in fewer circumstances in which they feel the need to shoot their weapons. The vast majority of officers are dedicated, honorable people driven by the desire to keep us safe, and without them, we’d have anarchy. Overzealous cops who shoot and/or kill should stand trial to help restore community trust in the system. Ditto for protesters who resort to looting.
I wish for more people to embrace the idea that incarcerating nonviolent teenagers is not nearly so effective as helping them find a focus in life. The petri dish of poverty and lack of education is where crime flourishes. A kid with a purpose gets caught up in building a career and not a rap sheet.
I hope we find meaningful ways to treat the mentally ill, including a system to keep them away from guns. There are too many who are homeless, too many with nowhere to go for treatment. Failure to treat them now translates to a larger prison population later. And too often, it results in senseless murders at their hands.
I wish family courts would be revamped so couples aren’t financially bled dry while waiting for a resolution to their divorce and custody battles. The system, nationwide, has devolved to a shameful state.
I surely hope the massive cyberattack on Sony Pictures was a wake-up call for both our government and corporate America. This is the new warfare, folks. Increase computer security — or else. The FBI says North Korea’s Kim Jong Un ordered the mega-hack as an infantile overreaction to a slapstick Sony movie about a plot to assassinate him. What if the unstable dictator’s next attack is on our power grid or national defense computers?
In 2015, I hope the Pentagon seriously reconsiders portions of its recycling program known as 1033. It is one thing to give used military equipment to cash-strapped police and sheriff’s departments. It is quite another to give M16s and grenade launchers to public schools and universities, which has happened in the past. There are enough guns on the streets.
I wish President Barack Obama and bipartisan leaders from Capitol Hill would lock themselves in a room and not come out until they have devised a cohesive immigration reform bill. No more stalling in Congress, no more divisive (unconstitutional?) executive orders from the White House. Politicians: Do the job voters sent you to Washington to do! Decide on a plan that’s good for the country, and make sure our borders are secure.
After that’s done, repeat the process and rework our lousy, tainted tax system so that it’s less complicated and more equitable.
Is it too much to wish for a resolution to the Guantanamo Bay problem? All these years after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. still holds 132 prisoners at that compound in Cuba. As war combatants, they may not have any legal rights under U.S. law, but this is not the American way.
I hope lawmakers stop passing laws to control the way Americans live their lives. I don’t smoke cigarettes, but don’t tell me I can’t. I watch my calorie and salt intake, so don’t force restaurants to do it for me. And figure out a way to keep air travel safe that doesn’t include making me feel as if I’ve been strip-searched at the airport.
Lawyers who make a living filing frivolous lawsuits on behalf of marginally aggrieved clients should face consequences. I wish the American Bar Association would find the guts and the means to slap serious sanctions on their charlatan colleagues. They give all lawyers a bad name.
Most of all, I wish for an America full of citizens who can be proud of our country — people who contribute to the community and work hard instead of waiting for a government handout, honest folks who help their neighbors, know whom they are voting for and instill good character in their children and grandchildren.
Don’t get me wrong; I’d love for there to be world peace, too. But sadly, it’s never going to happen.
Rockland resident Diane Dimond is a syndicated columnist, author, regular guest on TV news programs, and correspondent for Newsweek/Daily Beast. Visit her at www.DianeDimond.net or reach her via email [email protected]