The year 2006 was a year of great division. I don't think it is a stretch to say that the previous year saw a great deal of change in our country and our world. I am bothered, however, by the grim reminders at the end of 2006 that everything is still changing. Nothing is set. These omens seem to warn us that 2007 could be even more dreadful than 2006. In Iraq we have lost more than 3,000 troops. In the Middle East, a former dictator was executed along with any hope of regional stability. And in the United States, one of the last figures of "decent politics" passed away. Each of these foreshadows the terrible things that may be to come in 2007.
December 2006 will go down as one of the bloodiest months in the War in Iraq. More troops died in the month of December than in any other month of the year. Also in December, the total human cost of the war reach 3,000. This mark was something people thought would never be reached. This was suppose to be an "easy war." That is what we were told. 2007 will see this total increase even more if drastic action is not taken to change our plans in Iraq. Our government must think of a better way to get our troops home as soon as possible. The 3,000 that have died are not coming back. If more continue to die for an invisible or unreachable goal, then 2007 will be bloodier than all years before it.
The Middle East also was the site of another bad omen for 2007. During 2006, Saddam Husein was sentenced to death and then executed before the first of the year. While his trial has been a spectacle for months, it would not cause the stir that his death would. When Saddam was sentenced to death, many were glad. There was some unrest in the region, but not what we see happening now. I don't think many people actually thought they would kill him. And I don't think the world was ready to see it happen through the "eye" of a cell phone camera. But in the year that the Time "Person of the Year" is "You," it was to be expected. I said to myself the night of the execution, "I wonder when this video will be on YouTube." And it is there now. The unrest caused by the execution is a sign that no matter what the US does in the Middle East, things are not going to change. And if things do change, it will be only when the people of the region do the changing.
The last omen belongs solely to the United States. The death of former President Ford is a bad omen for our political system. The upset of November has given politicians a lot to think about. President Ford represented the "decent politician." To misquote someone at his funeral, "President Ford brought no demons or acts of vengeance into his presidency." The man was a symbol of how a politician should be. And though he was not without fault, he still did his job. But now he is dead. With him is the ending of an era. If our political system continues on this path, it will self-destruct. All great empires fall because of internal problems. This may be the beginning of our crumble.
I don't pretend to be a prophet. I do know history. And history gives us an idea of how events can lead to other events. These omens of 2006 may lead to terrible things in 2007, or they may all be forgotten in the pages of time. The choice is really up to us. If we pay attention to our history, perhaps we can make our futures all the better. Happy New Year.