Commentary: 2016: A New Hope

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Thankfully, 2015 has closed its doors on a most negative year.  People are scared, feel threatened, and hold no hope for the future.

Ebola threatened widespread areas.  Fears of a world-wide epidemic shook the entire world.

ISIS expanded its bloodthirsty approach to jihad. They continue their bloody massacres, blaspheming the Koran, the holy book of Islam, by making up their own version to justify the carnage.  For these people the Koran has been prostituted and the goodness of that holy book has been perverted.

And now Syria has become the focal point of the Middle East mess.  It’s not just all the killing but the thousands upon thousands of citizens migrating throughout the area, seeking safety.  The fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan also has continued unabated, adding to the numbers looking for a safe place.

Russia became directly involved in the ISIS conflict, with a direct hit on one of its passenger planes, blown out of the skies, with 294 deaths.  ISIS has taken credit for the slaughter.  And if that were not enough, Turkey and Russia are now wrangling over the shoot-down of a Russian fighter plane, supposedly in Turkey airspace.  Russia claims it was not over Turkey air space.  Turkey is a NATO member.

Islamic radical terrorist groups have inflicted harm worldwide.  And now their murdering of innocent people has reached our shores.

Make no mistake about it.  Evil is here.  But there is hope.  More and more people are realizing that the good must band together to combat these evils.

With fingers crossed and a prayer on my lips, I am looking for 2016 to be a much better year.  As a matter of fact, I am optimistic that 2016 will be the beginning of a turning point from evil to goodness.  And here are some reasons why. As horrible a disease as Ebola is, governments stepped in and individuals volunteered to treat patients at the risk of their own health.  TV cameras brought the Ebola crisis to a new level.  But more important, they showed the compassion of thousands of individuals responding to the call and unselfishly saving thousands of lives.  The human cry for help was answered as more and more volunteers responded to their brothers’ and sisters’ need.

As the flow of government aid and volunteers continued their humane response, we saw what was at first, a monumental epidemic, turn around into healing.  I expect that 2016 will pick up where 2015 left off and we will see Ebola eradicated or controlled as have been many other major diseases.

Our cold war enemy, Russia, is starting to see the light.  No, I’m not suggesting everything is now roses.  But talks point to a new reality in the Middle East.  ISIS does not care what country’s airplanes are blown up, whose soldiers it bombs or whose citizens it beheads.  I predict that Russia will see the only way out is to get rid of the Syrian tyrant.  A new coalition will form.  And from this will be an inkling of “peace on earth.”  Remember, evil grows when good folk stand idly by and do nothing.

Especially at this time of year, the light of heaven seems to shine brighter.  The guiding Star may take longer than a two-year trip to guide us to what is good and true.  It may even take years, but I see the process has already started.

So I am not pessimistic about 2016.  It may take more time but change is coming. Even the turmoil in the Republican Party over the elections in our country will be resolved and we will be the better for it.  Meanwhile, we need to stay the course and promote the cause of justice and peace.  We will win when we do not succumb to the threats and bigotry being promoted by the likes of ISIS and others.

With all this being said, I’m glad 2015 has ended, opening the way for new and positive growth.  And remember!  This is God’s world, not ours.  We are only stewards.   As we prepare to account for what we did in 2015, let us give thanks that we have another chance here in 2016.

There are many other issues facing us in our new year.  Assuming Ebola will shortly be history, we must turn world resources to cancer and other diseases.  Polio, for example, is not yet eradicated in a few countries.  This is a humanitarian issue but is made political by a few radical leaders who preach that vaccinations are a Western plot to sterilize people.  I see a breakthrough here, though, as a few brave parents begin to question their leaders and decide to have their children vaccinated.

New antibiotic-resistant infections are another medical battlefront where there will be progress.  Already more companies are discontinuing non-medical use of antibiotics in animals.  Physicians and patients will gradually begin to reduce knee-jerk prescribing of antibiotics for every ailment.  Hospitals are working to improve infection control.  And research is ongoing for agents to combat the new infections.

So I want to wish you all a Happy 2016 New Year.  And may God continue working his miracles and giving us all strength to do what is right.   And all the good-seeking men and women said, “Amen.”

Dick Tafel