We all know that we are now into the year 2009. "Happy New Year" has been said to us many times, and we appreciate that cheerful greeting. At the same time, we know that '09 will be a difficult year for many, and there can be difficult and troubling days ahead.
No, I don't have any ready answers for these times except to say that during my lifetime we have lived through difficulties similar to today's problems. And we have come through with more strength and courage as a nation than we had before.
I have faith that we as individuals will do our part to get us through rough times and be stronger as a nation. That also calls for faith in God to help us work together to help each other.
This brings to mind a research paper I wrote many years ago while doing graduate studies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. This paper was about the importance of cooperation and working together to solve common problems. It also looked at competition, which is important in helping us move ahead as individuals and as a nation.
But the key to making progress is found in people working together. One point in my summary was that ''competition makes the news, but cooperation makes the progress.''
Think about a football or basketball game. Competition is a strong motivation in a team scoring and doing it's best to win the game. But what really wins the game is the team working together, cooperating to drive down the field or floor, and scoring. If they don't work together, they lose.
During our lifetime, all of us compete for many things such as grades in school or college or for jobs, promotions and good salaries. On the farm, friendly competition takes place to see who gets the most bushels from an acre or whose dairy herd gets the most milk from each cow.
In all this competition is a spirit of working together. In college, we would study together, share notes taken in class and talk about the exam later. If someone else got the job we wanted, we might look at what they did and work harder next time.
Farmers are among the best in sharing their successes. Through tours, meetings and written examples, they share what they have done to get the most bushels from an acre or milk from their cows.
We can get through these tough times by following these examples of cooperation. If we see others in need, do what we can to help them. That might be material help such as money, extra food or clothing, or maybe a job of some kind that you can offer.
Being alert to problems around us and offering a kind word of support and encouragement can help. Somehow we all need a more positive attitude and that can be difficult.
On the TV, there is a little button that will also help. It says ''on or off.'' Using the ''off'' side shuts off much of that doom and gloom that clogs the networks.
Those out of work are concerned. Those who still have jobs should be willing to make adjustments to keep them and even help others find employment. Let's work together to get through and bring back a more positive time.
Remember that many common items in our world today first existed as ideas in our minds. Automobiles, airplanes, computers, rockets, trips to the moon, everything first started as an idea. God has given us unlimited power to create ideas. We have the freedom to think to come up with the ideas and action that will solve our problems. Let's do it!
Parker grew up in Trumbull County and is an independent writer for the Tribune.