This may be the wrong time of year to write this article, but here we are. It feels as though the world is off kilter—fallen off its axis or gotten hit by a massive meteorite. Why do I feel this way? Here is just a small sampling of what is going on in the world these days.
Hundreds of people in Ukraine and Russia continue to die each month that the war continues. Many Ukrainians are without power and heat—some have lost their homes. Ukrainian babies are being born outside of hospitals in total darkness and in freezing temperatures. Putin is colluding with Iran, and Iran plans to provide Putin with advanced lethal drones and possibly ballistic missiles.
Iran hung a 23-year-old man from a metal crane whom they accused of killing two members of the paramilitary and wounding others. His hands and feet were bound, and a black bag covered his head. He was not allowed to choose a lawyer, challenge the evidence against him, or ask for a public trial. Fears are growing that Iran is preparing to execute scores more protesters.
Just this past week, earthquakes were recorded in the San Francisco Bay area and Midland, TX. Massive blizzards blasted the country, and more are predicted. I recently arrived at our home in Florida and witnessed the devastating results of Hurricane Ian—yet more evidence of climate change. We were luckier than many. Still our home suffered substantial damage. More than 100 people died as a result of Hurricane Ian, mostly from drowning. More than 5,000 homes were destroyed and another 13,000 suffered substantial damage. Florida has made impressive progress in rehabilitating the state, but huge piles of debris remain, and most waterways are impassable. Many beaches remain contaminated and closed.
More than two million migrants have crossed the U.S. border in 2022. A growing number of migrants have arrived in El Paso, Texas, in recent weeks—an average of 2,500 per day. The situation is becoming a full-grown humanitarian crisis. The increase has been attributed to the scheduled end of Title 42, a policy that kicked many migrants out of the U.S. A humane solution to this crisis is a significant challenge.
Every night in America, more than 300,000 men, women and children are in homeless shelters. An additional 200,000 spend each night unsheltered—on the streets, in subway trains, etc. California has the highest number of homeless people in the country, and the situation is worsening.
In addition, recent estimates indicate that approximately nine million children in the U.S. live in “food insecure” homes and often suffer from hunger and malnutrition. A recent study claimed that 42,000 people on Maryland’s Eastern Shore are “food insecure.”
The already-announced 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump is exhibiting Increasingly bizarre behavior, highlighted by last week’s release of NFTs—non-fungible tokens—digital trading cards featuring caricatures of Trump in various guises including an astronaut, a fighter pilot, and a superhero with lasers coming out of his eyes. They originally sold for $99. Sadly, people are buying these (although there is some speculation that Trump himself may be the biggest buyer) from a man who is certain to be indicted for obstruction of an official proceeding and incitement of an insurrection.
And although we can be grateful that Herschel Walker did not win the runoff election for Senate in Georgia, the fact remains that almost half of Georgia voters chose a clearly unqualified and mentally troubled candidate over contender Reverend Warnock.
Then, of course, there continues to be the unhinged rantings of Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who claimed that “if Steve Bannon and I had organized that (the insurrection), we would have won. Not to mention, we would have been armed.” Don’t hold your breath for the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives to discipline her for her comments.
And finally, Covid continues to rear its ugly head, coupled with the worst flu season in recent history. And then there is RSV. These three maladies have caused hospitals to be filled to capacity, and the health system in general to be taxed beyond measure.
So, like many, I find it a bit difficult to be “merry and bright” this holiday season. But let’s try to find reasons for hope and good cheer.
First, the amount of aid and support both individuals and countries have given Ukraine must be acknowledged and applauded. And then there is the unwavering spirit of the Ukrainian people which is truly inspiring.
Next, Vladimir Putin has lost support from most of the world. He is now widely viewed as a modern-day Hitler. Iran remains a Russian ally, but that’s about it. It’s hard to see how Putin can emerge a winner in this situation.
The bravery of Afghanistan women who protested against losing their rights is hard to understate. Such protests have quickly spread across multiple provinces in Afghanistan and are being applauded in many countries across the world. Several agencies fight each day to protect and promote the rights of Afghanistan women.
The migrant issue remains a challenge. However, there continues to be strong determination to move the issue front and center and finally pass constructive legislation.
Several federal and state agencies are developing initiatives to combat homelessness and hunger. Some initiatives involve addressing solutions for prevention of homelessness, including early intervention programs and strategies. There are also dedicated programs for farmers markets and other local food entities to promote ways for the hungry to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Food banks have also stepped up to the challenge and have been especially responsive during the Thanksgiving holiday, as well as upcoming holidays.
And though illnesses continue to assault us and our health system, we are in a better place than we were a few years ago. Vaccinations, boosters, home health tests and medicines have come to our rescue and helped to reduce symptoms and the severity of these illnesses.
We also can be grateful that President Biden has exceeded expectations thus far in his presidency. Although his approval rating remains low, he has passed significant infrastructure legislation and presided over a scandal-free administration. He also has succeeded in appointing dozens of qualified Federal judges. Midterm election results were also encouraging. Because no widespread red wave occurred, Biden will have a fighting chance to address legislation that is responsive to America’s needs.
Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.” This season, it would be a special gift if each of us could seek the light and find a way to make it brighter.
Maria Grant was principal-in-charge of a federal human capital practice at an international consulting firm. While on the Eastern Shore, she focuses on writing, reading, piano, gardening, and nature.