Just a few days before Christmas, the holiday music playing on the radio, and one song always makes me stop, think and appreciate how blessed I am. 

Looking back to 1984 when a group of artists came together and released the holiday song, “Do they know it’s Christmas?,” the world seemed to be focused on one humanitarian event.  Dealing with the human tragedy of starvation throughout Ethiopia, people came together to offer hope and a helping hand. Today we seem overwhelmed with numerous tragedies throughout the world with little or no hope, never mind the ability to even comprehend the scope of human destruction. 

There is a world outside our Island City, and it’s a world of dread and fear. The headlines offer plenty of horrible news to take in during this season of joy and merriment. Throughout the Middle East, war and destruction have killed or displaced millions of men and women and plenty of children.  The largest city in Syria, Aleppo, once a thriving city of two million people now lies in ruins with a human toll beyond imagination. Turkey moves closer to authoritarianism, deadly terrorist attacks occur daily, Egyptian Christians are targeted by Islamists, refugees are on the move throughout the region, and Iraq moves closer to disintegration.  We can sit back and keep singing, thanking God that it’s them instead of us; but all this human destruction takes a toll on all of us. I am not sure where this whole balkanization of the Middle East is going to lead, but eventually we will all be called to answer for such human suffering. 

Looking out our windows here in Wilton Manors, to a land of plenty, we do not have to look that far in our own backyard to see many in need this holiday season. Local children still go to school each day hungry, others deal with the destruction of drugs and the growing opioid epidemic, homeless individuals gather at intersections and bus stops, and so many more people need help and assistance  throughout Broward County. In this season of giving, we cannot solve all the world’s problems, but perhaps we can make a small difference by supporting local organizations and charities that make a huge difference in the lives of so many neighbors throughout our region. Take the time this holiday season to bring some holiday joy to those in need. “In our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy, throw your arms around the world, it’s Christmas time.” 

Looking ahead to the New Year 2017, we can only hope that our new President and his group of merry men will have huge success in making America great again. It shouldn’t be too hard, since America is still a beacon of hope and stability in a troubled world. Optimistically, by this time next year President Trump will be placing many of his promised gifts under the Christmas trees of hardworking Americans. Let us hope he does not turn out to be the Grinch who stole Christmas for millions of families that believed in giving him a chance. 

Here in Wilton Manors, residents should expect to see our city move ahead on numerous projects vital to the future of our great city during 2017--issues like zoning changes along the Andrews Avenue and Oakland Park Boulevard corridor, road narrowing projects along Powerline Road and Wilton Drive, approval of the architectural game-changer residential development on NE 26th Street, and a continued robust local economy. 

These items do not happen on their own. We must work together to make sure that our city government and our elected officials continue moving these items forward. Many thanks to Vice Mayor Flippen for wanting to take quick action to ensure that the steps laid out in the Economic Development Strategic Plan get adopted by the City Commission. The matrix detailed within the plan, recently presented to the Commission, is a roadmap for city management to move some very important issues forward dealing with the economic vitality of our city. This topic will be something to watch after the holiday season is behind us.

So in closing, as the song states, “It’s Christmas time, and there is no need to be afraid, we let in light and banish shade, and in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy ….”

So let us spread that smile of joy, help a neighbor in need, and help make Wilton Manors the best it can be so that we can then help the world outside our windows …. ‘cause life is just better here.

Happy Holidays Wilton Manors!!