As we all know, 2023 was a hard year. Runaway inflation, the likes of which we haven’t seen in 40 years; undocumented migrants pouring into the country, the intentions of many are not yet apparent; and the Russians massacring civilians, raping women, and torturing prisoners of war in their invasion of the Ukraine. Communist China is eying to take over the tiny country of Taiwan, a democracy. The opioid crisis is shattering families, and the deep-seated corruption of the U.S. government is now on full display. Then, a few months ago on October 7, during the Jewish festival of Shemini Atzeret, Hamas terrorists from Gaza infiltrated Israel and massacred over 1,200 Israelis, which included raping women, burning whole families alive, decapitating babies, and taking Israelis and foreigners from multiple countries as hostages. Taking in all these horrific events, I have felt disoriented thinking about all those suffering worldwide. At this moment, my heart is aching just imagining the fate of those kidnapped in Gaza. But my sadness reached a personal level when my writer friend Jacky passed away in November. She spent 38 days in the hospital become she succumbed. It seems a short while ago I saw her lively and busy, sharing her medical articles for her community newsletter and her poetry for special days on the calendar. Now she is gone.
Jacky did more than write medical articles and poetry. She was a nurse for 55 years and a beloved mother and grandmother. She had many good friends because she was a good friend. I knew her for about 8 years as a member of the Word Lovers writing group. After I wrote and published my first novel, Jacky invited me to discuss it at her community book club. I’ll never forget her kindness and support.
My parents passed away five months apart in 2020. I felt lost and adrift then, and it’s the same feeling I have now. A lifelong news junkie, I now have trouble watching the news and hearing about all the everyday horrible events. It seems as if evil reigns. Many feel the evil winds are similar to when the Nazis came to power in Germany. Forces of hatred have been unleashed.
But I have to tell myself that it’s not all darkness. I still meet many wonderful people. I was also gladdened Elizabeth Magill of the University of Pennsylvania and Claudine Gay of Harvard were forced to resign for tolerating antisemitism on their college campuses. Major donors to these schools are pulling out and large corporations will not hire graduates with a history of supporting hate. News is swirling that pharmaceutical companies Eisai and Biogen Inc are preparing to introduce a drug to finally put an end to Alzheimer’s, which would save so many people and their families from the anguish of a cruel disease robbing people of their minds. And of course, babies are still being born, a sure sign that life must go on.
And we have elections in 2024. It is my fervent hope and prayer that the American people elect wise leaders who put the citizens of this country before their own self-interests so the United States can once again be a beacon for good in the world. For the world desperately needs it.
Unfortunately, tragedies and senseless violence will not automatically end, but what the world needs is a reason for hope and optimism that life can improve for all.