Of Sorrow, Hope and Rebirth

March 31, 1991

Easter and Passover evoke a recurring message of sorrow, hope and rebirth. Each year, amid the chaos of the moment, these important holy days serve as a much-needed touchstone, a reminder that the tragedies and triumphs of human existence are inextricably intertwined.

This season finds us embracing our victorious troops after a mercifully brief war in Iraq even as that war-ravaged nation disintegrates into an abattoir of wanton killing and human suffering. Factional violence continues to claim lives in South Africa amid real and sustained progress toward the sunset of apartheid. The dominions of Eastern Europe struggle with a bittersweet legacy of freedom and strife after the collapse of the Soviet empire.

At home, the unspeakably brutal beating of a black traffic offender at the hands of a mob of Los Angeles police officers has riveted the attention of a nation, sending the sad but unmistakable message that racism and abuse of police power live on in America. Despair walks the streets clothed in the ragged garb of the homeless. Too many of our children live in a world defined by drugs, guns and hopelessness. Too many of our babies survive malnourishment and neglect in the womb only to succumb to death before their first birthday.

Yet we are reminded that light in the darkness springs eternal. On Wednesday in New York, a newborn baby boy was saved from the maw of a trash compactor, put there police say, by the 12-year-old child who gave him life in the wee hours of the morning and held onto him until dawn.

The miraculous rescue of this innocent newborn, even in these tragic circumstances, uplifts the spirit and inspires the soul. It restores faith and hope in a world where both are in alarmingly short supply. We are a melting pot of cultures and religions. Today, depending on our beliefs, we celebrate Easter or Passover, symbols of death, resurrection and freedom. It is a time for reflection, for forgiveness, for spiritual renewal. Above all, it is a time for hope for the future.

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