In “Long Walk to Freedom,” Nelson Mandela has this to say about himself:
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.”
With 2013 behind us, it can be easy to look back and despair in the face of death, destruction and countless shortcomings in the arena of life. Turmoil escalated in the Middle East. Progress in Washington came to a halt with October’s government shutdown. Lives were lost, including such notable individuals as actor Paul Walker, novelist Tom Clancy and of course, former South African president Nelson Mandela. Yes, 2013 had its low moments. At the same time, it was a year of happiness and hope in which we can find the strength and promise to move forward.
On a light, happy and relatively recent note, Disney’s phenomenon “Frozen” took the box office by storm in late November, providing many families the magical theatrical romp they needed to end the year with high spirits and happy hearts. “Frozen” helped propel 2013 into the spotlight as arguably one of the top years for animated films in the past decade; notable films such as “The Croods,” “Despicable Me 2” and Pixar’s “Monsters University” were also released in 2013.
Continuing in entertainment news, AMC’s “Breaking Bad” drew to a close this past year, finally allowing millions of devoted fans to sit back and catch their breath after what many already consider to be one of the most enthralling television dramas of all time.
Technologically, Apple introduced the iPhone 5 in mid-September, which tops many charts as the hot gift of 2013. However, it pales in comparison to the revolutionary Pebble Watch, a highly anticipated multi-functional James Bond gadget that, even now, is available to the masses and ready to become a prominent personal life-enhancing instrument in the years to come.
Tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing and the train wrecks that claimed the lives of hundreds can seem like insurmountably bleak headlines. But with death always comes life, and even though the world lost many treasures in 2013, new hope was born in England when Prince George of Cambridge greeted the world from the steps of London’s St. Mary’s Hospital this past July. Named only one day after his birth, it is likely that the new prince will reign one day, theoretically establishing a future monarchy under the title of King George.
Along similar lines, new life was elected into the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of Pope Benedict’s February resignation. Pope Francis was instated in March as the 266th leader of the 1.2 billion-member church and is already an overwhelmingly popular leader among Catholics. A CNN/ORC international poll in December stated that 88 percent of American Catholics approved of Francis’ leadership in the papal role.
And within our own borders, although it feels like an entire year has gone by (oh right, it has), President Obama celebrated his second inauguration in 2013, paving the way for four more years of Democratic leadership in American government. Political views aside, election years are monumental occasions that should be celebrated and respected for what they are: not wars between conflicting sides, but rather adjustments in leadership aspiring to usher peace and resolution into the years to come.
Yes, 2013 had its low points, but the silver lining is there to be remembered forever. Let us not give in to despair. Promise awaits, as long as we keep our heads pointed toward the sun and our feet moving forward as we move steadfastly into 2014.