If you’re an American, you might look back on the year A.D. 2013 for its memorable highs — such as the finding of three women in Cleveland who’d been kidnapped a decade earlier — or for its tragic lows — such as the bombing of the Boston Marathon in April, and the EF5 tornado that struck Moore, Okla., in May, killing 25.
Internationally, though, there were events both joyous and horrific — as there are nearly every year — that far exceeded in scope what happened in America. The sarin attack that killed 1,429 Syrians on Aug. 21 brought the world to the brink of a new Mid-East war. The overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on July 3 had some celebrating with fireworks and others throwing Molotov cocktails.
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Weather-wise, Superstorm Sandy was but a tropical storm compared with Typhoon Haiyan, which made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8 and swept away an estimated 6,100 souls with its 195 mph winds and 20-foot storm surge. And some of the worst monsoon rains in recorded history drowned more than 5,700 people in India this year — though it was an event that barely made a blip on the U.S. news radar.
Our law enforcement and legal system were frequent visitors to the front pages of 2013. The Tsarnaev brothers were identified and rounded up just three days after the Boston bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is currently pleading not guilty to charges that carry the possibility of a death sentence. And Ariel Castro was swiftly brought to justice in Cleveland, where he pleaded guilty to his crimes and was sentenced to life ― plus 1,000 years. Castro escaped his possible hell-on-earth when he was found hanging in his cell in September.
State of Florida v. George Zimmerman sparked soul-searching national debates on racial profiling and stand-your-ground laws. It also reminded us that self-defense to one person can be an offense to another. These debates will forever be Trayvon Martin’s unfortunate legacy.
Ending on an up note is always good advice, especially as the warm, fuzzy holidays of Christmas and New Year’s fast approach. So a look back at 2013 would be incomplete if it didn’t include mention of the prospects for world peace. The initial nuclear deal between Iran and the U.S. might be a fine place to start. The deal brings whispers of peace to our two nations for the first time in 34 years. And the death of Nelson Mandela just a few weeks ago, as sad as it was, should remind oppressive leaders everywhere that the oppressed usually win—if not right away, then maybe next year.