A moment to reflect on the year gone by

As we say goodbye to 2011, many of us have been taking the opportunity to reflect on the year that was.

For those of us in the media, that means looking back at the biggest stories of the past year. Around the world, quite often, those stories judged to be the biggest frequently involve the greatest tragedy. Among the top national and international stories were the tsunami disaster in Japan and devastating tornadoes and storms across our country. Those ranked only behind the death of Osama bin Laden, which gave some closure to one of the most tragic events in American history.

We had our share of tragedy here on the Kenai Peninsula this year, and if our readership numbers are any indication, each of those was a big story to people here. Indeed, the stories drawing the most hits on our website were those that involved motor vehicle and boating fatalities, and we had too many of those in the past year.

What conclusion should we draw from the interest in reading about the tragedies that befall us? We'd like to think that it's this: We as a community still care. When misfortune hits another, whether just down the road or halfway around the world, we still feel compassion. We take the time to count our own blessings, and then look for ways to help our fellow human beings. We say a prayer, donate our time, skills and money, organize spaghetti feeds, auctions and charity events -- anything we can do to help.

There was plenty of good news in our community in 2011, too, and we should take a moment to count those blessings as well. That same compassion our community shows for those in need also comes through as we take good things and make them better. We're fortunate to live in a place about which so many people are passionate. We have our disagreements, and at times, our tragedies, but we're grateful to live in a place where people truly care.

In short: Take a moment to reflect on the year that was, to empathize with those who have experienced tragedy, and to be grateful for the good things in our lives.

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