It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I sat down and wrote these words in a “Horizons” column: “People may say that the economy is headed for a slowdown-it hasn’t yet. People may talk about threats from foreign countries-so far they haven’t attacked.”

Eerie, to say the least. I’m not sure if that qualifies as prescience on my part, coincidence, or stupidity. Either way, I doubt I’ll ever have a career working alongside TV psychic Miss Cleo.

The economy has slowed down, true; and while it was not a country that attacked America four months ago, it was a group of individuals dangerous within their own right- fanatics with misguided beliefs, heretofore unexpressed rage, and, whether they knew it or not, feelings of inadequacy shaped and controlled by a cowardly mastermind.

With an attacking country, we could have pinpointed a motivation, perhaps even understood their viewpoint.

The Sept. 11 tragedy-for all the philosophizing we do and rationalizing we try to carry out-is something that will never be clearly understood. How could these men have had so much hate in them? How could they let their minds be molded? How could they distort the principles of a loving God to fit their own means and think they were justified, even blessed?

It is something that will never, ever make sense.

But the sheer fact of its senselessness provides us with a ray of hope for those of us here, and all across the world, who condemn the actions are the vast majority. And to us, it does not make sense to kill the innocent. We know that it isn’t right.

And as we begin this new year-a year that, like every other and like every day, is rich with potential-that abhorrence and knowledge of evil is still with us.

But so is the knowledge of good.

Crisis has a way of bringing fundamental truths to light-the dynamics we always knew were there but taken for granted. And when the truth was brought to light, we reacted to it instinctively-not by succumbing to despair, but by rising above to become better than before.

John F. Kennedy once noted that the Chinese symbol for crisis was comprised of two characters-the one for danger and the one for opportunity. Perhaps the Chinese were aware of a phenomenon that we often aren’t: humanity’s capability to bounce back from what should have been the breaking point. It is true not only on the global scale, but in individual lives as well. When we face evil, we have the option for transcendence.

In the aftermath of September and with the dawning of this new year, it appears that America-and, one can hope, much of the rest of the world-has chosen to transcend the evil. To unify.

In that aforementioned January column, I also mentioned the power of dreams. Together, perhaps the dream for peace can be realized as well-a resolution for the world.

I never used to make resolutions. They seemed to be an exercise in futility. Yet on Dec. 31, I made one without a trace of my usual irony. Opening stages of pre-production were beginning on my independent film, and things were moving along far more smoothly than I ever could have hoped. In fact, we were partying at the house of the guy who’s contributing several of his own songs to the soundtrack.

I was maybe the second or third one to go, and I said, “To make the best film I can make and to be the best person I can be.”

Trite, possibly, but heartfelt.

2001 was truly an odyssey, not set in space but grounded on earth, in our fears and concerns and finally our hopes and dreams. That was Homer’s definition of an odyssey-triumphing over a series of trials and emerging intact.

For trials strengthen…and ultimately purify.

And tomorrow is always brighter.

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