Spring is finally here. By many standards our winters are barely more than momentary inconveniences. Think about Boston, for example. Now even the hard hit areas are seeing a renaissance as plants that a few weeks ago appeared to be doomed, are flowering. Nature has a way of reminding us of the possibility of renewal but it is difficult to translate that into our individual or communal lives.
Disaster, while sometimes remote from us, is never more than a channel change away. That seems particularly true this year. From the civil strife that appears to be worldwide and threatens to engulf us all to the individual derangement that will kill a child, or take down an airliner . . . the wonders of spring can say little to ease the grief and pain that we can scarcely imagine.
Although we cannot understand the devastation of massacres of students in Kenya, the displacement of millions by civil wars that affect every country in the Middle East, the horrible turmoil of Eastern Ukraine, or countless other acts of senseless violence, we know that it is out there. It is all too easy to dismiss that as not involving us, but it does.
Hardly a day goes by that we are not inundated with example of injustice and civil rights violations here at home. Who would have thought the convoluted conscience of legislative action in Indiana would have unleashed such a protest? That an attempt to guarantee religious freedom could be understandably viewed by some as a threat to their own rights didn’t occur to those responsible for writing the law.
At least, the protests got the attention it deserved and corrections will be made. Unfortunately, there will be other incidences of a similar nature; it seems there can never be a solution which satisfies all sides.
In the talks involving Iran and their nuclear program there continues to be much disagreement. By lifting sanctions those opposed to the framework agreement . . . and that’s all it is—a beginning . . . there is widespread feeling that easing restrictions will actually aid the Iranians in developing nuclear weapons. We have not yet heard the analogy to the Munich agreement and Chamberlain’s capitulation but don’t be surprised if it is raised. (Editor’s Note: Fox News has already made the comparison.)
Yemen, a country that a few decades ago was not on anyone’s radar, now threatens to be the fuse that could ignite a conflagration that could set the world ablaze. ISIS and its many iterations seem to be spreading with rapidity.
One of the most frightening aspects of these terrorists and their insane objectives is that we aren’t even sure who they are, where they are, and what is the purpose of their senseless savagery. At least in earlier wars we could define our enemies and understood their motives, ill-conceived as they were. Who can comprehend Boka Haram, Al-Shabaab, and others of their ilk?
The list of daily horrors goes on and on. When looking out on a bright spring morning, particularly when celebrating Passover and Easter, as Ramadan approaches, things seem more foreboding than celebratory. That the underpinnings are so often religious is even more disturbing.
The only consolation comes from history. A study of any period of the past will reveal that it has ever been thus and despite that, somehow the world has survived. Although we can feel hopeless, it is important to realize that if change will come it must start with each individual. To abdicate that responsibility is to insure the success of evil.
The cynics among us will be quick to remind everyone how naïve that is. I would suggest that we should not ever give up the hope that justice can conquer hate, that tolerance and understanding can defeat evil.
As the saying goes, “Hope springs eternal.” May that be true this Spring!