Be the person of the year

In December, Time Magazine named its person of the year.

Take a bow, because it was you, you and you.

With a reflective-type mirror on its cover, a person looking at the magazine's cover saw him or herself.

The article focused on how Web sites, such as MySpace and YouTube, have given the average Joe an avenue to put forth a new perspective into the world. Although individual figures have come along to fill the pages of our history books, 2006 was marked by the man, or the woman, in the mirror.

You.

The same could, and should, be said for 2007 and the years beyond, although it should have nothing to do with the Internet, but with the social values reflected by each individual.

Although people are spending time online, making videos of their cats skating -- funny as that is -- what about time spent as a volunteer? Fewer of our waking hours are spent in our community, while more time is spent in front of a computer.

It begs the question, what are our values?

Perhaps it is symbolic of the "me" generation. Others can comment on "your" MySpace page, and "your" blogs, "your" photos, and "your" YouTube videos. Perhaps that is the reason it is so popular -- the feedback you get.

But if we live in a world where what defines us and makes us happy are others' comments, then that is a reflection of how hollow we've become. We need personal pride; a feeling that doesn't come from selecting Iron Maiden to blare when others open up your MySpace home page.

Rather, it's personal pride reflected in volunteering and being a community activist.

The problem is that some people struggle being volunteers when they believe others are taking advantage of the system. In other words, why should they put forth an effort because somebody is not being responsible for him or herself?

If that's your belief, volunteer to teach a course on personal responsibility, such as how to balance a checkbook. Furthermore, we think people who volunteer get far more out of their efforts than the people they volunteer for.

By volunteering, you help develop "your" community, whether it is helping someone move into a house or helping a youth develop a basketball jump shot so he's not shooting bricks. There is pride in good work, whether you drive by the house you helped build or watch the teen you taught basketball make the high school team.

But there is more pride in the fact that you know you helped, that you contributed to the betterment of others. And in the long run, that betters you.

Besides it's just good karma.

So although Time Magazine says you are the person of the year for your work online, we want you to be the person of the year for helping others.

Because at the end of the night, isn't the reflection you see in the mirror more important than the one you send into cyber space?

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