They danced again on Bourbon Street, and Dick Clark counted down to midnight as the ball dropped in Times Square. So much the same, yet all is changed, the semblance of normalcy belying nature’s ravages. Having suffered such catastrophic blows — Katrina’s destruction in New Orleans, Clark’s stroke two years ago — everyone would have understood if the revelers had stayed away, if Clark had stayed home. Instead, they came out for all the world to see, damages obvious, but spirits triumphant, images of hope at the dawn of the new year.
Hope is the great light illuminating the start of each new year. Hope is the ballast for all those resolutions to be better people, somehow kinder, fitter, healthier, wiser. We start each year confirmed in the belief that somehow, with the gifts of time, determination, and perhaps a bit of luck, we will achieve more happiness, security and peace. We generally don’t get there, but we feel virtuous for the good intentions.
Hope eludes far too many citizens of the earth. For millions, the stroke of midnight on January 1 signifies just another day of misery. For those of us who have the privilege of reveling in the new year, finding ways to kindle hope in the lives of others must be among our more durable resolutions.