How does one convey a message of hope and renewal at this holiday season in the face of a world that seems, for all intent and purposes, to simply be falling apart?
- There are more refugees in the world today than at any time in human history.
- Relations between Russia and the West have recently reached their lowest point since the Cold War.
- After 8 years the Syrian civil war seems no closer to an end now than it had a year or two ago and the devastation, killing and suffering continue.
- In Afghanistan-Pakistan the Taliban is gearing up for a new season of fighting against Afghan armed forces and their US backers.
- Yemen’s civil war continues as well, with no end in sight.
- North Korea continues to be a threat to world stability in spite of some recent positive signs.
- Japanese politics could be thrown into turmoil if Prime Minister Abe is forced to resign over a cronyism scandal involving his wife and the sale of public land.
- The turmoil, uncertainty and staff turnover in the White House has left the West leaderless as it faces growing challenges from Russia, Turkey, China and other powers.
- The political uncertainty in the countries of Northwestern South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) has risen dramatically in the past months.
- Rampant nationalism has also significantly increased the incidents of anti-Semitism as well as racist actions against minorities worldwide.
Add to all this the possibility of a US-China trade war, increased tensions between the US and Europe, increased trade barriers threatening vulnerable supply chains, state sponsored sabotage and the very real negative effects of global warming and one can only surmise that the level of personal and economic risk today is as high as its been in recent years.
And then along comes spring, with its promise of renewal, an awakening from the depression of winter, the celebration of Passover, Easter and the onset of Ramadan just 6 weeks from now, to raise our spirits. And raise them they do.
Spring brings with it an ability to open the envelope of hope as it were that, indeed, the world will come to its senses, people will find a way to communicate their disagreements without anger, prejudices will diminish and nations will turn away from conflict as a solution to their challenges. Those hopes are the contents of the envelope of hope.
If this sounds idealistic, indeed it is. For there is no greater message being conveyed to us during this season of redemption than change is possible, new ways of seeing things can be realized and calm can prevail. We can hope for nothing less.
May this holiday season be a blessing to all and may we be fortunate to live to see a return to normalcy in the evolution of mankind.