Editorial, The New York Times, December 25, 2015, p. A26
[I]t might help to . . . tune out the rancor and find reasons to believe in the persistence of better values: humility, conciliation, kindness, dignity and reason.
The evidence was all around in 2015, nearly everywhere you looked.
The nations of the world came together in Paris to reach an agreement that may yet halt the march toward an overheated, unlivable planet. It offers the best chance for meaningful global action to avert catastrophic climate change, and 195 countries promised to seize it.
As the Syrian crisis swelled and a human tide poured toward Western Europe, tens of thousands of refugees found open doors and hearts in Germany and other countries. The overall global response remains far from adequate, but the Germans sent a message that rebukes nationalist bigotry, defends human rights and reminds countries like the United States how to confront a humanitarian emergency.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of committed love between two people, affirming the marriage rights of same-sex couples who had been denied equal treatment under the law.
The use of the death penalty in the United States fell to the lowest levels in two decades.
A bipartisan movement for criminal justice reform advanced, despite our blighted politics.
In neighborhoods long scarred by discrimination and police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement spread a message of peaceable resistance. Its methods and successes evoked those of the older and continuing struggle for immigrants’ and workers’ rights, which had many victories, like the workers’ campaign for a $15 minimum wage.
Dozens of states and cities, resisting a xenophobic tide, passed laws expanding rights and inclusion for undocumented immigrants, through driver’s licenses, legal services and health care. Come January, California, long a leader in this area, will be the first state to forbid discrimination based on immigration status, language or citizenship.
As with states, many individuals led by example, opposing hatred and fear with courage. Parisians opened their homes to strangers on the night of terrifying slaughter there.
After a gunman’s rampage at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., victims’ families forgave the killer. “A hateful person came to this community with some crazy idea he’d be able to divide,” said the mayor, Joseph Riley Jr., “but all he did was unite us and make us love each other even more.”
President Obama spoke at the church about healing racial divisions, then began to sing “Amazing Grace.” When the congregation stood and joined him, how sweet the sound. Days later, the Confederate battle flag came down at the South Carolina State Capitol.
Evil is everywhere, and anger and hatred are loud. The shouting drowns out the quiet; tragedy and disaster block the view of the good. Yet there are always signs of progress toward a better future. Look, or you may miss them.