As we approach the new year, my hope is that we as a nation are able to put aside political differences and work together to keep this great republic moving forward. Perhaps a bit naive but achievable if we learn to respect and work with others who do not share our views. Compromise should guide our actions as citizens.

As I scroll daily through various news outlets both of right and left, one would think we are on the verge of a national apocalypse – racism, social inequality, immigration and health care are a few of the never-ending “crises” clamoring for our attention and resolution. I contend though these may be challenges, it is not as “bad” in America as our politicians and news outlets would have us believe.

To put things in perspective, as a career naval officer for 30 years I had the good fortune to see the world – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some of the “ugly” included seeing people of all ages in Rwanda having limbs hacked off because they belonged to the wrong tribe, Bosnians executed by their fellow neighbor because they were of the wrong religion, and migrants in Iran incarcerated and tortured because they crossed that country’s border seeking a better life.

Although we as a nation have our problems, the United States remains a great nation and an example for the world to emulate. However, to maintain our leadership of the free world we must work together and try to put aside our differences in achieving the greater good. Unfortunately, as a realist, I suspect the next two years will be spent in political gridlock centered on a futile effort to impeach our president while we ignore some of the long-standing issues that cry for our attention.

Let's count our blessings and attempt to work together in the Shenandoah Valley for the greater good of the nation. Rather than dismiss and mock our neighbor for his or her opposing views, let’s try to understand them and seek common ground. Future generations of Americans are depending on us to get it right.

James R. Poplar III, Quicksburg