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Aim your sights high, not low in the new year


By James Hogan

I was recently in Detroit visiting my wife’s family and my brother-in-law, Eric, came up from Columbus. I admire Eric a lot.

I’ve known him since 1989 and I’ve watched him handle himself and his life’s ups and downs in a manner worthy of note.

Eric got married to Monica shortly after I met him, and like most young couples, marriage brought a mix of happiness and challenges.

Some of the relational challenges, in the early years, were pretty tough as I understand them, yet, three decades later, they’re still together.

They meant it at the altar, and dug in to figure out how to make their promise of a life together a reality.

Now, I believe lots of folks who ended up divorced meant their commitment on their wedding day, and Lord knows I’ve seen enough one-sided sabotage in some relationships to explain why some folks who really meant it couldn’t make it last.

Eric, raised in rough part of Detroit for most of his youth, then hauled to Cincinnati – where he and his siblings experienced overt racism back in the 1980s – had lots of available excuses to pull out if he wanted to live a life of broken promises and shifting, lowered goals.

Many of the friends of his youth took that route, leaving a trail of fatherless children, wounded partners, drug abuse and spotty, menial work lives.

Eric didn’t.

He pushed through college, got into a productive career, fought for his marriage and raised two daughters with his wife. Now they’re enjoying grandchildren and still working to keep things moving.

Sixty years ago, this story was so normal as to be not worth telling. Sadly, today, it’s quite notable.

I was thinking of that, and how proud I am of my brother in-law when I sat down to think about the new year upon us.

It’s no stretch to say we need more nobility and less mess in our society. In a time where pandemic, edicts, political upheaval, skyrocketing inflation and social tensions have brought about editorials in major newspapers warning of civil war and calling for a way to have a national divorce, the next generation needs us to lead the way.

We need to figure out what a true life of nobility looks like for each of us and live up to higher standards to stop the bleeding and start rebuilding from the damage of 50 years of decay.

The answers can’t be political because our country has two and more diametrically opposed ideologies swinging us back and forth with each election.

If we’re courageous and self-disciplined enough to live noble lives, the answers are within us.

The new year is a great time to reset… Let’s aim high.

Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.



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