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Opinion: Newborn blessings for a new year

Newborn baby cribs in a hospital nursery.
H. Armstrong Roberts
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Retrofile/Getty Images

Alfredo Antonio Trujillo and his twin sister, Aylin Yolanda, were born just a few minutes apart, on different days, in different months, in different years.

Alfred Antonio was born at 11:45 pm, Dec. 31, 2021, at the Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, Calif. Fifteen minutes later, Aylin Yolanda was delivered just after the stroke of midnight, last Saturday morning, Jan. 1, 2022.

Their mother, Fatima Madrigal, told KABC in Los Angeles she feels doubly blessed.

"Everything is possible," she said. "And every child is a blessing."

The twins are healthy and adorable, and I can imagine a lot of sibling jokes ahead. "Oh, Alfredo, you look so much older!" And, "Oh, Aylin, you are so immature."

But I found myself wondering this week what 2021 and 2022 may come to represent in our world.

Alfredo Antonio Trujillo was born in the last minutes of a year in which the news was often tragic and unnerving. After vaccines brought what looked like a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, the tunnel got longer and often darker.

Millions of people lined up for their doses, developed in record time, a tribute to human ingenuity and enterprise. But the virus punched back with new variants, which we confront now in 2022.

2021 was also the year that a mob, incited by defeated President Donald Trump and fueled by lies, attacked the U.S. Capitol to try to stop a legitimate election result from being certified. The Sweden-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance now classifies the United States as a "backsliding democracy." Will 2022 become known as a year in which the leaders of that mob are held responsible, and the purveyors of misinformation are rebuked?

The U.S. left Afghanistan chaotically in 2021, and left it in chaos. Violent crimes rose in many places in the U.S. in 2021. Mass shootings and school shootings returned. The climate crisis sharpened, with historic heat, floods, and fires, and people fleeing drought and famine.

I know that sounds biblical. But it's our world as we take a breath and step into 2022.

And yet, the births of Alfredo Antonio Trujillo and Aylin Yolanda may remind us: people also found love and delight. They began families. And as a new year begins, the thought of these newborn blessings may help us tie our hopes and dreams into the world that is ahead.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.