The end of every year usually dances with hope to welcome the year ahead. But if, as Shakespeare said, “What’s past is prologue,” the end piece of this year may want to “sit this one out.” 

Our nation has rarely been more unsettled on so many levels – cultural, political, economic and religious. Our Democracy these days seems to be cracked, like the Liberty Bell. These are testing times for all Americans who believe this nation symbolizes, if not embodies at least in part, freedom, tolerance, equal opportunity, social justice, compassion and other ideals; who also believe their nation possesses the foresight and resourcefulness to solve whatever problems threaten our way of life. 

And problems there are. 

Culturally, our nation is rife with racism, sexism, bigotry and violence. Politically, our government – red, blue, and bruised – is divided and broken. Economically, the “haves” have it all and the “have nots” whatever “trickles down” from  the larders of the “haves.” Religiously, faith in our churches, if not in God, is being tested as never before with ministry dwindling and being uncovered as masking sexual predators, as well as other human  failings. In addition, our climate is raging in protest against our abuse of Mother Earth. And all, as  prologue, are sadly worsening.

Still, we are America, young and immature, but growing. We have much to learn and seem to be doing that the hard way. Our problems can teach us but we need to be willing to learn the lessons they offer and meet their challenges. We can do better than all that is happening at present but to do so we need inspired, moral and selfless leadership. 

I’ve heard it said – and sung – that “the darkest hour is just before the dawn.” For me, the visions of our Founding Fathers embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are the light of dawn, the grace of rising sun, particularly in times like these.  

Our nation still points in the right direction and the strengths of  our differences will ultimately move us closer to fulfilling its dreams. Diversity need not be feared; philosophically, it is one of our greatest resources – and practically a synonym for democracy. If we can get beyond the bias of labels to  the substance of what we all seek – freedom, acceptance and a meaningful life – the workings of  democracy and our spirit will diminish any darkness.

We need to believe, even through the darkest of nights, that we will dance with the light of dawn.

(written with wishes for a bright
and better New Year!)