The do-nothing Congress in Washington has been disappointing and the future seems just as bleak.
For a change, the recent events in the Middle East are more encouraging.
Our secretary of state, John Kerry, has restarted the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians with a goal of a two-state solution.
His tenacity is something new for the Israelis, who see him acting with a religious fervor.
At the same time, the solution of the Iranian nuclear problem is moving forward.
By now, Iran has taken its first steps in the right direction.
It seems that the goal of achieving a nuclear arms-free Iran is within reach.
Unfortunately, there are members in our Congress who are calling for tougher sanctions.
Do they wish for derailment of the negotiations and another war?
In his State of the Union speech, the president promised to veto their plan.
Then there is the question of Syrian civil war, which has been raging for three years.
More than 130,000 people have been killed and 2.4 million have fled and become refugees in neighboring countries.
There is a general understanding that the only solution is a political one.
It took quite an effort by the U.N. to convince the warring parties just to come to Switzerland on Jan. 22.
On Friday, Jan. 24, the parties in Geneva settled in two separate rooms while the U.N. envoy Brahimi went back and forth between the two.
I would call that the ultimate diplomacy.
Mr. Brahimi is a highly respected international peace activist from Algeria.
By Saturday, the opposing parties agreed to meet in one room (not talking to each other).
In the afternoon, Brahimi succeeded in getting them to agree on a local peace in the old city of Homs to allow humanitarian aid to the people who are starving.
Unfortunately, as yet the plan was not realized.
The most significant achievement in Geneva concerning Syria was the agreement of the opposing parties to continue meeting with each other.
The organizers wish to reach a political agreement of a transitional government followed by a democratically elected one.
Truly a long road ahead, but better to talk than to fight.
Maire T. Zakrzewski