“Whew! Thank God it’s the New Year. It has to be better than last year. It was brutal.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say that when I was drinking a toast to Auld Lang Syne. I’ve said it myself and most everyone agreed. And then, when the supposed “better” year comes to an end, we say it all over again. As if we hadn’t done that last year.

At first glance, it’s hard to find anything good about 2017. Our political climate turned upside down and became deeply negative, the polarization between political parties was never so blatant and damaging, there were mass shootings and terrorist attacks, and there were massive sexual assault upheavals in corporate businesses and the film industry. Global warming was never so obvious, we felt the extreme heat and the seasonal aberrations and still, lawmakers refused to acknowledge what was so obviously going on.

It isn’t like we never had a crazy President before although it’s arguable whether anyone has ever been more crazy than the terrible specimen we have now. It’s not like we never had mass shootings or terrorist attacks before as we continue to hit gridlock when we try to implement gun control. It’s not like sexual exploitation is anything new but it seems to be more rampant than at any other time. And then, global warming has been around for a long time and nobody wants to do anything about it.

I’m not trying to depress you. Quite the opposite. The point is that things look bad, very bad, but are they really? Are people seeing the big picture when they evaluate the last 365 days in the march of time through history. I don’t think so. Granted, it takes a lot of imagination and faith to find the goodness these days, but it’s there, hiding behind aggressive actions and false rhetoric.

When I look back and try to take on a hopeful attitude of our world, past, present, and future, here is what I see.

• While racial discrimination is at an all time high, the wrongdoers are being routed out and exposed.

  • The actions of an incompetent President (I cringe) is helping to energize Democrats, any people who care about our country, and the global community at large.
  • We women, silenced for centuries, have found our voices and we have a lot to say, between calling out a culture of sexual assault and marching in the streets to demand respect and equality. I wonder if this would have happened if our current leader (rap artist Busta Rhymes calls him Agent Orange) wasn’t one of the perpetrators.
  • Books are being written about the failure of the primitive use of torture to gather information from our enemies. “It doesn’t work,” says Mark Fallon, author, NCIS agent, and former Gitmo interrogator.
  • Millennials are lifting their heads out of their electronic devices, taking a look around, and speaking up about the future they may face unless they engage in some form of activism.
  • We are turning away from egocentric news pundits who want to be stars and have no interest in reporting the news.
  • We are turning toward various forms of art to express and calm our emotions.
  • Most of all, instead of being blasé about the state of the world, we are engaging

in conversations about how to make things better.

It’s not like I’m naïve about the world wide dangers we face and the way stupidity seems to be taking over. I see it just like you do and I suffer it. But I also remember that there were much worse times than we are facing right now – like the Dark Ages where torture, beheading and the gallows were the norm in society. What about the reign of Henry VIII, who had no mercy for men and women alike as he called for the torture and death of so many innocent people? Even his own wives.

I am not unaware of the fact that the Me, Too movement is probably making some mistakes and charging a few innocent men. But women have endured so much pain and suffering over the years, the number of men who are falsely accused pales in comparison to the women who have suffered and died under the aggressiveness and absolute control of the patriarchy.

In closing, as January becomes February faster than we can imagine, I’d like to quote Martin Luther King:

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.