I think it goes without saying that the world in 2012 took so much time and energy being fixated on causes outside of themselves that they rarely invested in their own pursuits. We saw Republicans and billionaires like Sheldon Adelson give about $101 million dollars of his own money to a losing presidential candidate. Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg was so set on launching the brand public that he fell into public scrutiny and ridicule when the numbers went south. Our children continued to over-idolize celebrities, some to the point that their Twitter accounts were overzealous and their YouTube channels absurd. And the rest of the country unfortunately relied on politicians to have the final say on whether the fiscal cliff was going to resolve or avalanche.
I think Oscar nominated and Hollywood megastar Will Smith got it right when he said, "stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions." And in 2013, that is exactly what we all should do.
Yes, I know this is a proposal that is hard to commit to, but if we could all apply it to one aspect of our life, we would do more good than harm to the world.
Imagine if Mr. Adelson would have given that $101 million to a cause of his own -- just imagine how much he would be admired today than criticized. What if Zuckerberg would have managed his ambition and reflected more -- perhaps his maturity as a global businessman wouldn't be questioned. If the kids of the 21st century spent more time creating their own inventions and innovations, perhaps they wouldn't cling so much on the artificial artists that pervade our very existence. And lastly, if we all did our very best to help the economy and fuel it rather than mismanage our spending habits and budgets, perhaps we wouldn't be so much in the economic mess we are in now.
In 2012, we were all looking for fingers to point the blame rather than pointing them at ourselves. And it wasn't just out fault, we were enabled. Politicians made themselves more polarizing than ever, making us choose between either their righteous right or their liberal left. Figures like the 1 percent occupied our minds as we tried to associate vast wealth with pure evil and the media continued to convince us that the Kardashians' contribution to the world was more important than that of the generous Gates with the reality TV family having their constant obsessive exposure in tabloids and headlines.
So yes, this year was spent observing the actions of others and living vicariously through them. We felt more connected than ever with celebrities through Twitter and as teens cried or cheered for the break-up of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, math and science scores in the country continued to decline and college tuition rates were up for debate in Congress. And as we argued whether or not Kate Middleton was pregnant, climate change still impacted our livelihood and could have possibly been responsible for Hurricane Sandy.
And as we made progress socially for gay rights and health care, employment numbers are not where they could be and that isn't just the government's fault. It's ours. The people who have been so wrapped up in other's lives and ventures. The people trying to have the greener grass than the Joneses while ignoring the very foundation of our own lawns. And the very people who found life more enriching being under the motto of hip hop star Drake's "YOLO" (you only live once) than actually self-building on their own goals and plans. It was us who made 2012 not a epic as it could have been and thank goodness the Mayan's got it wrong this time around, otherwise we would have ended on a bad note.
Therefore, in 2013, the world should take a step back and focus on our own self-worth and from that contribute to the grand scale of things. As we saw in 2012, we can no longer throw our investments in the pot without a game plan. Adelson did so with Romney and look where that got him. Zuckerberg did so with Facebook and most likely would have thought twice. And now we must focus on our role in this nation as well have a new four years with a progressive, but more polarizing president in Barack Obama.
But how do we do it? It's quite simple: attempt to master at what you currently do and train yourself to want less outside of that. Yes, this will be a challenge, but we still shouldn't attempt to do it in some capacity. If you are a college student majoring in biology, be the best biology major you possibly aspire to be. Focus on your own goals and what you learn from that, and then bring it to the table. Specialize in your talents, rather than spread yourself too thin.
Perhaps one of the greatest success stories of 2012 was that of Oprah Winfrey's OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) Channel. Once the "Queen of All Media," my self-proclaimed role model was unstoppable when leaving her award winning talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011. When launching OWN, Winfrey was hit with the realm of a new format (cable television) that came with challenges and demands that she was not fully expecting. As a result, the initial reaction of OWN was not a hit. It was not until Oprah focused on what her greatest strengths were (interviewing the stars) that she was able to resurrect her network and give it some of the highest consistent programming ratings of the year.
In 2013, in our own spheres, we can all resurrect from the pitfalls of the previous year. I just want the world to know that being yourself can be your greatest contribution to the world. Fellow Penn alum and award winning poet, actor, and writer Carlos Andrés Gómez once said that "the single most revolutionary thing you can do is recognize that you are enough." This new year, we should all recognize this and give what is the best of us in order to ensure the best for all.
Follow Ernest Owens on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MrErnestOwens