It is a new year, but I cannot shake the feeling that I am living out a week of d/j vu.

There is turmoil in the Middle East after Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and has subsequently begun unleashing its own "shock and awe" campaign. Of course, militants from the extremist group Hamas, which ironically is the Palestinian government's majority ruling party, forced the aggression after launching rockets into Israel.

The news from the economic markets seems to remain on the gloomy side day after day, with stocks dropping and rising like a roller coaster in a theme park. Homes are being lost to foreclosure and people are finding themselves out of work as companies downsize in hopes that the sacrifice of a few will protect their bottom dollar.

It is one of those times where I look to the rest of the new year and wonder what it will be like. How will it turn out? No one can say for certain.

One thing that is a certainty, however, is the world we live in will continue to move on. Wars will be fought, people will die, economies will rise and fall - it is a mark of our civilization that we can experience all of this and still remain standing when it is all said and done.

I have no false or outrageous hopes for the incoming president, Barack Obama. While I cast my wholehearted support behind him during the General Election, I do not presume to think he will immediately know the solution to our nation's recession or end the war in Iraq within a month.

But I am optimistic in his ability to inspire. America, in my opinion, is a nation in desperate need of inspiration right now. Some of our most beloved leaders had that ability - Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy - and it is my belief that Obama shares some of those characteristics.

My only hope is that in this age of "What have you done for me lately?" we do not find ourselves losing our resolve or optimism after a few months under the guidance of a new president. The problem I have always found in the America of today as opposed to the America I have read and heard stories about is we lack resolve and patience.

Iraq, by casualty counts of past wars, has not been as devastating as the 20th century world wars. But with the use of 24-hour news and the Internet, people have seen war in all its ugliness. They have also seen the world at its most frightening. For many, it is much easier to look the other way than actually pay attention and be involved.

Too often, though, I find myself wondering what it will take to turn that around. What will be the driving force that leads America back to being that nation of resolve, the America that other countries look to for guidance and not at in disgust?

For me, this new year will be a turning point in our country's history, and I believe in the new administration's ability to make that hope a reality. I am just not nave enough to believe it will happen tomorrow.

Tim Olmeda is the news editor for the Nueces County Record Star. Readers may contact him via e-mail at