Optimism for a brighter new year

To say that we’ve been through a turbulent year would be an understatement.

All of a sudden, that image of an old man with a bent back, a long grey beard and a staff to help him stay upright, is front and centre on our stage.

So, while he staggers off into the sunset, a new person bounces in to take over; young, strong, supple and full of energy.

As much as I look forward to a clean slate that a new year seems to promise, I often wonder how much have we learned in the past year that we can take into the new year? What have we learned that we have resolved not to do in the new one?

My thoughts on this past year are a jumble of images that include phenomenally large migrations of people fleeing oppression, poverty and abuses.

An economic downturn that is worldwide, leaving millions without work, homes and, most of all, a future. I cannot even imagine walking several miles, let alone thousands to search out a better living. And this is world wide.

Locally, we also have a migration problem; sort of. It is more of a falling through the cracks type of migration; in some cases, the result of unemployment, but more often, a discontent and a disconnect from the mainstream. Of course, I’m referring to the street population.

Daily, we see images of the destruction attributed to them, while officials scramble in their attempts to deal humanely with the situation.

Detox, rehab, treatment centres and housing are the priorities of almost every city around the world.

I have some recent pictures sent to me of a fenced area in Nanaimo, B.C., where they will place a number of ATCO trailers to house some of the homeless who now live in tent cities.

Recognizing that not all those on the streets are slobs, for a minimal fee, the more responsible ones can have a roof over their heads, at least until they can once again stand on their feet. This makes sense to me.

The mistrust in governments that seem to speak out of both sides of their mouths, grew to new heights this past year as well. Promising to protect the very item that they want to do away with is common. Like the oil and shipment of it, for example.

When you take all these different issues, as well as tons of moral issues that society is grappling with, you begin to understand why the old man of the year is so bent over and feeble.

If you have observed the increasing suicide rates and the high number of opioid related deaths, you really begin to understand the critical desperation that people feel.

Enter a new year. In the midst of all this chaos, is there a future to look forward to? Can we bring back that spirit of optimism that we seemed to have before? Can we pull out of this internationally common slump that we are in?

You can probably tell by now that I watch a lot of news.

Yes, I believe that we can look forward to a good new year.

Out of every 10 people whom I have talked with, commiserated with, or empathized with, about half of them have stated that they do indeed look forward to a better new year, especially those whose anticipation is built on their faith.

A common theme from these optimists is that somehow, we will have the energy and the resolve to try to make improvements to a broken world.

This morning, as I write this, I looked out our east-facing window at an incredibly beautiful sunrise and felt that this is indeed a harbinger of a new year.

Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with a concern for the downtrodden.

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