Despite the challenges the world presents today, I hope you are out finding joy – and hope – in the Maine spring.

I recently read Nicholas Kristof’s column titled “The Case for Hope” in The New York Times opinion section and nodded along to it all the way through. The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and journalist who has covered stories all over the globe wrote of the many reasons Americans should have hope at this time, a time of ongoing wars, poverty, humanitarian crises, climate change, inequalities, nuclear threats, student debt and mass shootings. He provided a historical context to put things in perspective.

Abdi Nor Iftin is a Somali-American writer, radio journalist and public speaker. He lives in Yarmouth and can be contacted at noriftin@gmail.com.

Kristof’s timely words resonate as we experience Maine’s amazing spring, where signs of resilience and hope are all around us. The world can seem hopeless, but if we look closer, we can find reasons to be hopeful and keep fighting for a better future.

Just a few weeks ago, we were enveloped in darkness, wrapped in blankets by the fire on cold nights, but we knew that was going to end. The deck I am sitting on now as I write this piece was covered in snow, and the trees were bare, looking dead. The birds were absent, creating an eerie silence. Now, it feels like another planet: the daffodils are in full bloom, fresh green leaves signal hope and resilience, and birds around me sing so loudly that even those on Zoom calls can hear them and rejoice in them.

The column brought to mind so many things, from my upbringing in Somalia to the changing seasons in Maine. I grew up during one of the world’s bloodiest civil wars in Somalia. A New York Times article in 1991, “In Somalia, Graves and Devastation,” highlighted the horrors that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, including my newborn sister. I survived along with the remaining members of my family, even though the war tore us apart and I have not been able to see most of them for over a decade. As someone who has already lost a country and been separated from family, Kristof’s column brought me hope and some sense of relief for my new country.

Since moving to Maine over 10 years ago, I have witnessed several major events that have challenged this country, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, Jan. 6 and various violent rallies. I have seen an America as divided as Somalia before its civil war, which led to government collapse and chaos, turned me and my brother into refugees and displaced my family. But I have witnessed America’s resilience, and I am not fearful of this country plunging into a civil war as fast as Somalia did. This country has endured its own civil war, Jim Crow laws, a presidential assassination, the murders of civil rights leaders, 9/11 and mass shootings, yet here we are peacefully out walking, running, biking.

What makes this nation unique is that our resilience extends beyond our borders. Think of U.S. doctors volunteering in the dense forests of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda bringing American innovations to protect the gorilla population. Think of the innovations created here that have helped major parts of the world escape severe poverty. Today, using just an app, I am able to wire money to a family in Somalia that can help them buy food and medicine. Sharing stories like these and sharing stories of resilience can bring a sense of relief to those who are uncertain where we are headed.

In the meantime, as you search for joy and hope, step outside to see the miracles of the Maine spring. Blooming flowers, bald eagles and other hawks in the sky, turkeys and deer crossing the road, and turtles sunbathing on branches in Maine lakes and ponds can bring you joy and hope for the future.

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