Marshall: A personal New Year’s message
My fellow Alabamians, for many of us 2018 has been a year of hardship, of pain and loss. Our state as a whole has had its challenges, too. We’ve seen headlines of lives shattered by addiction, crime and violence. We’ve seen families torn apart and communities at odds. I am sure that I am not alone in my eagerness for a new year and a new chapter. Yet, as I reflect on the past year, I recognize that a year of hardship has brought to light some new perspectives that I want to carry into 2019. I share them with you in hopes that, as a state, we can look back over the coming year and say that we did our best to make Alabama a better place to live.
In 2019, I want to be kinder than I would normally be because, as the saying goes, everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. As everyone now knows, my family was fighting a quiet battle for many years. The conversations that I’ve had with families across the state have opened my eyes to the fact that we were not alone in that. You really never know what burdens people are carrying and how your words can build them up or tear them down. I read something by Stephen Covey recently that resonated with me. He said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” How different would our interactions with others be if we kept this in mind? In the New Year, I want to be more compassionate and patient with people I meet who may not be as easy to understand.
In 2019, I want to be more forgiving. If I have learned anything over the past year, it’s that life is too short to carry around anger and bitterness. And unforgiveness is a heavy load to carry. As evidenced by the local news around our state, the determination to settle a score has repeatedly resulted in the loss of life in some communities. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the wrong done to us was right, and it often doesn’t come with an apology from the person or people who hurt us, but it frees us to focus on what is ahead rather than what is behind.
In 2019, I want to invest more in people. Admittedly, before I became attorney general, I was able to give more of my time to a variety of philanthropies — one of which remains very close to my heart, mentoring at-risk youth. Although my involvement may have to look a little different now, I want to make time to stay involved. The truth is, if we are tired of high crime rates and bad neighborhoods, then we have to be willing to play a small part in the solution. Alabama is blessed with numerous non-profits organized to serve children and teenagers who are statistically more likely to end up in prison. Find one in your area and get involved. Everyone can’t commit to mentoring, but studies show that simple hospitality, even just sharing a meal, can make a difference in the life of an at-risk youth. The first step is believing that you can have an impact.
Despite the difficulties of the past year, it was a great honor to be elected to serve as your attorney general. I appreciate your confidence in me and your support, even in the midst of some of my darkest days. I pray God’s blessings upon you and your families.
Happy New Year!
Steve Marshall is the Alabama attorney general