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What the Word of the Year Says About Us

The difference between bright lights and dim bulbs.

Picture Source: http://hopediscovered.com/?page_id=26
Picture Source: http://hopediscovered.com/?page_id=26

A political website is soliciting nominations for someone – anyone – that took a courageous stand; or innovatively made a difference without raising taxes to do it; or demonstrated the audacity to buck the status quo. 

The recipients are to be honored for their shining examples of self-sacrificing service with the title “Smarter Government Bright Lights!”  

‘Dim bulbs’ certainly seems befitting the buffoons who otherwise garner the spotlight and the blockheads who make headlines. 

Depending on the source, the official “Word of the Year” for 2013 varied but the value – or lack thereof - expressed was similar.

“Global Language Monitor has declared that ‘404’ is their official ‘Word of the Year.’”  

According to chief analyst Paul JJ Payack, “404 is the near-universal numeric code for failure.”   Four-oh-four indicates something you were looking for cannot be found.   

Relatedly, and not surprisingly given the lowlights in the spotlights of 2013, second place writes Jennifer Harper in “The Washington Times” went to “fail” which, according to Payack, is “a single word often used as a complete sentence (Fail!) to signify failure of an effort, project, or endeavor.”

Or the person behind it.

Not coincidentally number one in the “USA Today” list of most used words of yesteryear as reported by Trey Barrineau was “selfie,” referencing a picture taken of oneself usually with the arm holding out the camera visible in the self-portrait which is indicative, says the Urban Dictionary, that the photographer “clearly has no friends.”

Or decreasingly so.

Substitute this past year’s headliners Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and Miley Cyrus for, respectively, ‘404’ (failure), ‘fail’ (short for ‘fail’) and ‘selfie’-sexting Cyrus and there’s your nominations for not-so-shining examples of anything worth emulating.

Not to be outdone however, and certainly not alone in similarly self-destructing, were Lance Armstrong (doping), Alex Rodriquez (doping), and Washington I-502 yes-voters (doping).

Connecting the dots, chances are not only will the slope continue downhill in the coming year but – given human nature - ‘dope’ may well will be the word for 2014.

Then again, there’s ‘hope.’

‘Hope,’ is the word used by Mark Wahlberg to describe the true story behind the American war film “Lone Survivor" that opened across the country this first month of the New Year. 

Wahlberg portrays Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor of the United States Navy SEALs Afghanistan mission “Operation Red Wings,” in which “a four-man SEAL team was tasked to capture or kill Taliban leader Ahman Shah.”

The mission failed.

But not as in 404-failed.

While true they did not find what they were looking for, they found something else.

In the words of Peter Berg (writer, director and producer), they found “something bigger than our ego.”

Or ‘selfies.’ 

“This story is about coming together as a group - protecting each other, loving each other, looking out for each other - and finding a greater strength as a team than you could ever find as an individual. Marcus (Luttrell) wrote a book (his memoirs of the same title as the film and on which the film is based) that, as much as it’s about 19 people being killed on a tragic day in Afghanistan, is about brotherhood, sacrifice and team commitment.”

They were “the best and the brightest, the stars of the families.”

And, until now, stars without a stage.

Wrote Sarah Aubrey, producer, “The book has this incredibly emotional story of brotherhood and sacrifice, and then ultimately, in the story with Gulab, this grace and humanity even in the midst of war.”

Gulab is the Afghan villager who helped rescue Luttrell and who attended the premiere, “marking his first time in New York City and in a movie theatre.” 

On some god-forsaken mountainside, out-gunned and out-manned in their effort to bring stabilization to a region where villagers sought voting safety - which Taliban leader Ahman Shah and his 200 well-armed fighters sought to disrupt – hope was found.

The tragic events surrounding June 28, 2005 are now on screen, the camera unsparing Alonso Duralde of “The Wrap” writes, in “reminding us that the cavalry doesn’t always miraculously show up in time to save the day.”

But that theater-goers “by the end of its opening weekend in wide release, had made the film number one at the domestic box office,” is hopefully a harbinger that this coming year we’ll see less of what’s-in-it-for-me and more of how-can-we-make-this-work-for-us.

Lights and camera on the action.

Or not.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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