With 2017 now behind us, it’s time to assess how life changed during the past year and how that change might have affected us all. The new year erupted under forbidding skies with political upheaval causing unease across the country and around the world. Highly disruptive political promises caused general unrest in the populace, a wide loss of hope and a general waning of optimism. By mid-year, our attention to the political front was diverted by news of unnatural “natural” disasters in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico with the onslaught of hurricanes Harvey and Marie. The human and financial costs of these disastrous events will be ongoing and remembered forever.
Not to be outdone by events in the southland, the hot summer winds in California helped spread forest fires that brought with them loss of life and property beyond imagining. The side effect of all these events was to temporarily push the President’s woeful performance off the newspaper’s front pages.
In the fall the skies slowly changed from dark overcast to shades of gray as political efforts were mounted to repeal Obamacare, resulting in cutbacks designed to imperil its future. Proposed tax and immigration law reforms were fearfully awaited. Random shootings of innocent groups of people were now being committed by deranged individuals rather than radicalized terrorists, and the frightening events in Charlottesville added to our distress.
Ruthless fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon continues, while in Saudi Arabia there are early signs of a cultural metamorphosis following the new ruler’s proposals regarding education, modern government, and social practices. In a controversial article, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has called such developments the arrival of an “Arab Spring.”
As we wade into the new year, we look back and can only wonder how in the world we’ve endured so much. In fact, we’ve managed to survive this collection of adverse happenings, not by giving up hope or the search for peace in our own nation and others, but by often reminding ourselves that an optimistic outlook in life is a critical weapon in the ceaseless struggle against all that works to defeat us.