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Another Year Comes to a Close: Giving Our Thanks

December 22, 2013

Burritts Rapids Another year has come and gone. During the past 12 months we’ve witnessed atrocities of staggering proportions in some countries (Syria comes to mind, with over 100,000 civilians killed); the man-made disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, caused by a run-away, fuel-laden train which devastated the town’s center; and the enormous damage and deaths caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

However, we have also watched courageous people rise to the occasion, such as Pakistani teen Malala Yousefzai, who after recovering from a bullet wound to the head from the Taliban stood at the United Nations to deliver a riveting speech, followed by the release of her autobiography.

Closer to my home, just days before Christmas a spectacular helicopter rescue took place at a construction site in Kingston, Ontario. A student residence under construction caught fire, leaving the crane operator stranded at the top. Canadians watched in horror in real-time as the intense flames and smoke shot above the top of the crane, which was 10 stories above the ground. The operator, 68 year-old Adam Jastrezbski, crawled to the far end of the boom arm to await his fate.

And then the sound of a RCAF Griffon helicopter drew close, having been dispatched from nearby Canadian Forces Base Trenton. Search and rescue technician Sgt. Cory Cisyk was lowered by cable to where Jastrezbski was crouched on a two-by-two-foot platform. Sgt. Cisyk instructed Jastrezbski to grab onto him where he fastened a harness.

Though he suffered burns and extreme trauma, Jastrezbski made it through the ordeal in remarkably good shape. The fire Kingston department estimated the flames to have been around 1,000 degrees Farenheit, and feared the buckling of the crane. Watch the video of the rescue here. Adam Jastrezbski announced from his hospital bed that after 40-plus years in the construction industry he was retiring. Better than that, he’ll be able to be with his family at Christmas.

Acts of bravery such as the actions of Sgt. Cory Cisyk exemplify the presence of individuals who selflessly put their lives on the line each and every day. Leaders, however, come in all shapes and sizes, contributing in a wide variety of ways to make our planet a better place.

As another year draws to a close, taking time for some personal reflection and re-affirming our individual purpose in life collides with the spectacle of the omnipresent Christmas shopping season, where the ever-widening gap between the haves and the have-nots creates pressures for the latter, especially for working poor families. Fortunately, there are often acts of human kindness and generosity at this time of year; unfortunately, there are not enough of them to address the inequalities and the imbalance of power inherent in society.

I’m an admitted cynic of Christmas, or to be politically correct, the “Holiday Season.” I just hold my breath until we emerge out the other side in the New Year. My only true joy is having our four children and four grand children, and my 94 year-old mom, at our house for Christmas supper. It may be a bit of crowd control, but I just soak up the togetherness.

On that note, be sure to focus your attention on those who matter to you, putting in proper context the hyper-drive of spending for immaterial things which hold, in reality, no value.

When we emerge on the other side in January, I’ll have my Leadership 2013: An All-Star Female Line Up! ready for you. This year I decided to focus on only female leaders. And do I ever have a great line-up. You’ll read about an incredible young woman who embarked on a huge trek to raise funds and awareness for PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome). There’s the story of the fearless, outspoken nun; the courageous governor of an Afghanistan province; or the physician who has dedicated herself to helping the child victims of war. Plus more.

Jim and Max Snowing People such as the female leaders that I profile give me hope for our world. And at this time of year, and at the beginning of 2014, we would all benefit by taking time to thank those people who try to make our world a better place, whether it’s halfway around the globe in a poor village or in a soup kitchen somewhere in North America.

Thank you for stopping by my website-blog this year. I deeply appreciate and value your readership, especially in a crowded blogosphere.

I’ll see you in January.

Peace be with you and those close to you this Christmas.


Mandela In memory: The world lost the 20th Century’s greatest statesman and moral voice.

“Foregiveness. Conciliation.”

First Photo: Burritts Rapids, Ontario
Second Photo: Jim and Max out on the trail.

Photos by Sue Butler

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