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Farewell to friction, hello to compassion
MONROE - As the tumultuous year of 2016 draws to a close, with the uncertainty of 2017 looming on the horizon, what most area residents want seems to be more compassion in the world.

Seven people from the Monroe area, asked at random by The Monroe Times, offered their opinions on this year and their hopes for the year to come. Despite the divisiveness that rocked 2016, most of these people had very similar thoughts.

Ken Reeson, Monroe

Reeson had a swift reply when asked to name something about 2016 he didn't enjoy: "The election," he said without hesitation. "It pretty much dominated everything."

Indeed, the election influenced Reeson's hopes for 2017 as well. "I want (president-elect Donald) Trump to prove me wrong," Reeson said. "He's said he'd do a lot of things that he won't be able to, frankly, but I hope he can be better."

Janine and WILL Brown, Monroe

Coming back from a mid-winter run Friday morning, the Browns had running on their minds for next year. Will said he was looking forward to a marathon he intends to run in June, while Janine is preparing for a half-marathon that month as well. Neither were negative about this year either, although Will lamented the deaths of many celebrities this year.

Both were proud of their personal running achievements. "I ran my first marathon this year, so I'm glad I did that," Will said. Janine, meanwhile, said she had her best 5-kilometer run time this year - "about 30 minutes," she said - and hoped to improve on that next year.

"I guess we've made a resolution to be more in the moment," Janine said. "To stop being in our own heads so much and just enjoy the time we have together."

Stacy Hill, Monroe

Hill, too, had little negative to say about this year. "There have been a lot of positive things this year," she said. Hill, co-owner of the Toy Haus on the Monroe Square, said she was proud of the store's successful second year of operation. "We had a good turnout for the Concerts on the Square," Hill said, adding that a post-Thanksgiving "shop small" event was also very successful.

Hill also said she hoped to see more events like early November's Wine Walk next year.

Anne Ekum, Monroe

Ekum's thoughts on the year were more broad and negative. "There was just so much conflict between people and social groups this year," Ekum said. "All these political things between us - I hope they all go away next year."

Ekum said she wanted people to be kinder and more respectful to each other next year.

"More people should follow the Golden Rule, I think," she said.

LeAnn Shipman, Lena

Shipman, a Lena resident who works in Monroe, agreed with Ekum, saying she "would like to see less violence in the world" next year.

"You know, world peace and all that," Shipman laughed.

Similarly, Shipman was quick to add she was glad to see the end of this year's bitterly contested presidential elections, saying they caused too much division among people.

Megan Chance, Monroe

Chance gave a more specific answer when asked about 2016.

"This year there were a couple of homeless people around here asking for food and jobs," Chance said. "But nobody would help them, so I did it myself. And I don't want to see that next year. I just want people to have more compassion for each other."