The best part of this new year or that which we are most grateful for is the simple fact that we are both alive and together. We made it into the year we will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. But for amazing medical and surgical expertise and care, my life partner may have died. We don’t like to think about the “what ifs” and don’t.
No doubt, it is the brightest side of a life-changing year for us personally: a year of world and national anxiety around an endless pandemic, a violent attempt to thwart the will of the people, the great divide between science and cult-thinking and horrendous disasters from unexpectedly strong and violent weather systems.
No wonder we’re cranky if not angry at those promising more of the same, spiked with threats of unspeakable violence against innocent individuals and entire groups no less in number than all registered democrats, and no smaller than one woman of childbearing age or the mother who receives messages wishing her children killed before her eyes.
All of this should inspire the resolve to reconcile these issues with our voices and our votes. This is the year that will forecast the fate of our democracy. Our bright promise is the opportunity to choose democracy for all Americans supported by our Constitution.
Speaking of bright spots …
Let there be light
The James Webb telescope was launched Christmas Day, its sun shield was deployed on New Year’s Eve Day and it is now on its way to the beginning of the universe.
The telescope promises no less than to send pictures of the first light of the universe as we know it. The theory goes that the big bang didn’t immediately create light, that it took some few hundred million years for particles to combine to produce enough light to be seen.
Webb — as the telescope is called — will be able to look back to that point, which translates to looking back 100 to 250 million years. It is possible that informative images and data will be returned in my remaining lifetime, and for those younger we will begin to learn the secrets of the universe.
I am awed that humankind has the discoveries, intelligence, ingenuity and curiosity to develop this magnificent device. I am also frightened at the same time.
After all, it is one of those existential moments when we realize what truly insignificant specks we are in the grand universe of things.
It isn’t an exploration or discovery that should cause us to question our spiritual faith and certainly not one that should be labeled heretical. Webb could well move us to a new version of our faith as sustaining as the one we have now or wish we had.
(For more about Webb, visit jwst.nasa.gov/content/science/index.html.)
Let there be life
Hands down the brightest side of the pandemic was the development and production of lifesaving vaccines to protect humans against the COVID-19 virus followed by a distribution plan that got vaccines into willing persons within the first quarter of 2021.
Locally, in Sequim, Jamestown S’Klallam tribe mobilized its health services to hold vaccine clinics in collaboration with volunteer groups who served coffee and acted as traffic directors among other tasks. The community came together in a big way to meet a desperate need. The enduring bright side of humanity.
The majority of Greater Sequimites chose vaccinations despite the unfortunate politicization of the lifesaving vaccines. Most did not choose to make a political statement, rather they chose not to die a horrible death preceded by hours of struggling to breathe and a final painful goodbye to family on a small screen.
Our community continues to struggle against the spread of the newest variant. It is tiring and trying to mold our daily lives to protect our bodies and those of others. But then again, most of us do. It is one of those expressions of the bright side of humanity and our understanding of the importance of the common good.
Let there be love
Of course, there is love. I started this column with love. We love our families, our friends and our beloved pets. We love music, sunny days, our work on good days, the beauty of nature and the laughter of children and so much more.
Yet, we are in a period of discontent manifested by some people layering anger, hate, threats and domination over the impulse to love. Seems that love is not a popular commodity in some circles.
There cannot be happiness when love is suffocated. There cannot be health in a body that is in a constant state of fight or flight. Perhaps there is satisfaction in dominating another or taking away their dignity but it is short lived since both are as vulnerable as its victims.
We’ve all been in emotional arguments with a loved person wherein convincing the other became the goal instead of resolution. When we become sane again and anger is replaced by love, we feel relief and are so much happier and productive.
It’s very possible that we can do that now as we come to understand the great cost to humanity of the terrible division of spirit we are experiencing. Rather we can recognize the damage and rush to repair it just like we rush to help our neighbors and community in the aftermath of a weather disaster like thousands have done for years and years.
We are the brightest and finest in those moments. Most of us know this moment deserves as much from us. We can be moved by our love for humanity and our country and inspired to reconcile these issues with our voices and our votes.
This is the year that will forecast the fate of our democracy.
Bertha Cooper, a featured columnist in the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation and it the author of the award-winning “Women, We’re Only Old Once.” Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.