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Op-Ed

Year of hope

December 29, 2021

As we peer around the corner where 2022 lurks, a year-end ode to the one thing holding us together.

William Dotinga

By William Dotinga

Journalist for Courthouse News Service since 2011, copy editor since 2014 and website editor since 2017. Love wine, passionate about the great outdoors and travel.

I guess I’m an infrequent writer. It’s been nearly two years since my last column.

I looked at it this morning. It stands as a snapshot of the way things were at the beginning of the pandemic, days into the first lockdown and mask mandate, when hoarding was all the rage and we were already exhausted even though we’d only known the novel coronavirus was even a thing for a month.

But we had no idea what exhaustion really is. What it would look like and how it would feel.

We had no idea what toll the unfolding years would take.

Second surge, third surge, fourth surge.

Delta. Summer surge. Omicron.

Winter surge II.

Disinformation. Medical “expertise” hard won from a few hours “studying” at YouTube U.

Maskholes. Antivaxxers.

Then the Former Guy, claiming a big steal that did not and could not happen, not in any state or county, his Biggest Lie of all. Fomenting an insurrection that continues to shake the pillars of our democracy and batter everything we thought we knew about our fellow Americans. Revealing the ever-widening cracks in the façade of the United States already laid bare by our unending reckoning with our racist past and present.

And our deepening division.

In the two years since I wrote "Year of Hell," I have struggled as most have. Adjusting to what I guess has become our new normal. Learning to live with flagging mental health, supply-chain issues, the constant drone of truth locked in warfare with fiction and struggling to gain traction let alone enough ground to win the battle if not the war.

Yet not all has been darkness. I and those in my circle have remained healthy through a combination of diligence and grace. We’ve kept close with friends despite long months of staying in our bubbles. We have our jobs, our homes, our pantries.

And my new normal now includes the bright light of a beautiful little girl who reminds me every day there is still beauty and wonder in this world, no matter how bleak it appears outside.

I have wondered — I’m sure others have too but don’t give it voice — if, given all we've been through and still go through, whether now's a good time to bring a new life into the world.

This I now believe with all that I am:

It is the best time.

This is the time for good people to raise even better people. To flood our land and planet with bright lights who will grow up to be the future we all want but barely dare to hope for. Children who will have the guts to do what they know they need to do to save our nation, our world, our future.

Who will redeem their parents and forebearers and put things right again.

These are the things I believe, and they bring me peace in the silver light of winter dawn when I lift my beautiful little light out of her crib and her smile sets my soul on fire. A sweet creature who starts each day with a smile — much can be learned from her, if our (my) hearts are open to it.

In a few days we will close the book on 2021, which we’d all hoped would be better than its predecessor. In some ways, maybe it was. Hope starts as a seed that can only grow when it’s cared for, and most of us have so many other things to do that caring for our hope-seeds isn’t high on the list of priorities.

The ways 2021 wasn’t any better than 2020, though, have us all peering around the corner where 2022 lurks, eyes shielded against the unknown that comes with each new year but that its predecessors taught us can be cruel and hard. And still, because I have to wake up every morning and raise my bright light to be all the world needs her to be, I must wake up with hope and strive every day to nurture my hope-seed into the tree of strength and goodness and, yes, defiance she and I both need it to be.

Year of hope. May that be what 2022 is.

It’s what all of us need it to be.

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