They say it is a miracle. A couple of days before we go to press, Elizabeth Smart was finally returned to her family.
Abducted for nine months, the saga of the missing 15 year-old Utah girl came to a startling and wonderful end. Like others, I found myself riveted to the TV on that first day, overcome with happiness as if Elizabeth was part of my own family.
Suddenly, nothing is impossible anymore. According to experts, the chance of survival in a kidnapping of this type is near zero. Yet, Elizabeth Smart not only is alive, she spent much of the last nine months in the Salt Lake City area, walking about in public with her abductors.
We can learn a valuable lesson from this episode. Not only is it okay to expect good, it might be a requirement. The Smart family seemed to know that their daughter would be found alive. They never gave up praying and looking for her. Even when the police and media seemed to tire of the case and concluded a worst-case scenario, the family continued to press every viable lead. The Smart family appeared to be the only ones who expected a good result for their daughter.
In a very troubling time, we are simultaneously dealing with the Columbia shuttle disaster, a painful economy, an impending war, and continuing fallout from 9/11/01. It seems that Elizabeth‘s homecoming is the first bit of good news reported on the national scene in a long time. What a welcome reprieve it is.
Does the Smart family know something we don‘t? Was their daughter‘s rescue really a miracle or something else?
Maybe we can all expect wonderful things for ourselves, too - good relationships, financial security, fulfilling activities. How can good things result if we are only receptive to the bad. Recently, I‘ve been expecting the economy to improve and sure enough, the day after Elizabeth‘s return, the stock market‘s Dow Jones listings rose almost 300 points.
The possibilities here are endless. Could the brewing war in the Gulf region have positive results? I expect so. The Iraqi people deserve to live in peace and freedom without suffering thousands of deaths and the annihilation of their country. The roots of terrorism and bigotry can be dissolved. Americans can again live in security, promoting the virtues of democracy, not the terror of warfare.
Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson says he expects that Saddam Hussein will step down or flee before U.S. or U.N. troops have a chance to invade Iraq. There certainly are other scenarios, too, that can bring a quick peace to the region.
Another option might be for President Bush to bring our troops home if Baghdad sufficiently disarms or inspectors are allowed to stay in Iraq and do their job. Can you imagine the goodwill such a gesture might bring for us in the eyes of the world?
That way, everyone wins. We would have forced Saddam Hussein to live up to his obligations and the world would be a safer place. Best of all, no lives would be lost.
I think we are on to something here. If nothing else, we can always be grateful for today‘s blessings. Welcome home, Elizabeth.