November 26, 2022

A 100 year Challenge to New Mexican Voice Readers

Posted on 02. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

Will all this be forgotten in a hundred years? A century goes by one day at a time, all 36,525 of them (can’t forget the leap years).  In 2012, New Mexico will be celebrating 100 years of existence as America’s 47th state, and we’ve sure seen a lot of changes since we voted to join the other 46 in 1912.

Back then, most folks probably didn’t give a hoot or a whole lot of thought as to how we’d look in 2012. People were too busy focused on trying to eke out a living and avoid all the diseases and disasters that seemed to conspire against them.

Our roads were dirt (or mud). Our railroads brought us prosperity, goods and new people to settle the growing Land of Enchantment (though I’m sure for many enchantment wasn’t exactly what came to mind when they threw open the shutters of their windows and realized another back-breaking day of work lay ahead of them). Our schools were makeshift and our young people often labored alongside their parents on farms, ranches and in stores. Our churches were still gathering places to meet and ask the Lord’s blessing for our crops (and probably some rain). Tourism wasn’t yet an industry, but politics was fast becoming one.

A century later, we’re still facing many of the same challenges that our great grandparents’ faced like educating our children, finding work, getting enough rain, extracting minerals from our earth and trying to keep our politicians honest and responsive.  That’s not to say we haven’t made considerable progress. We have, but in many of those areas, the problems still linger. One of the biggest is planning for our future, and while 2012 is fast approaching, I don’t hear a drumbeat from anybody on what we want from our next 100 years.

Sure we have a Centennial website ( where New Mexicans can see what celebrations are planned for our birthday, but it’s more party planning than a constructive conversation on what we want to be when we ‘grow up.’ That troubles me, for if there ever was a time we needed a good plan, it’s now. The Governor’s website names her top four priorities for the future and that’s a good start, but it’s a far cry from a plan.

A plan for a state’s future needs to be crafted on the back of information and opinions gleaned from its citizens in town hall meetings and other gatherings and even from the internet.  It must be coupled with some good old fashioned prognostication that’s based on our strengths, weaknesses, our hopes and our dreams. We need to shift into high gear now and lay out today’s most pressing issues for all to see and comment on. Some of the really big ones are: land and water management, education, energy and our environment, our economy and the really really big one… how much government do we need and want going forward.

A friend of mine recently told me that life is moving too quickly for people to grasp. He said that New Mexicans need to stop and take a deep breath and count to ten and stop scurrying around like prairie dogs. They need to stop popping their heads up from their holes so much and spend more time down in the den thinking – about the things that matter. We ought to concentrate on how things will fit together and work 100 years from now and devote less time to worrying about how they’ll look.

That may sound like heresy in this very visual and often superficial world of ours, but the truth is we cannot really see our world with our eyes alone.  Sight is not the same thing as vision.  If our Centennial Committee would rather concentrate its efforts on the party, that’s okay with me as long as somebody higher up throws down the challenge to our communities and citizenry to start talking about New Mexico 2112.

We at the New Mexican Voice would like to make an offer to our readers.  We would like to hear your views and suggestions on what kind of New Mexico you want for the next 100 years.  Make your comments as long or as short as you wish, just mark them ‘100 Years’ at the top of your submission and send them to us at: or by mail to: New Mexican Voice, 6565 America’s Parkway, Suite 200, Albuquerque, NM 87110.

Remember, good ideas never go out of style!

Stephan Helgesen, Editor/Publisher

Stephan J. Helgesen





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