By Jim Williams

CHICAGO (CBS) — As we begin 2022, let’s face it – we’re in a dark place.

We’re nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic with no end in sight, the nation is politically polarized, crime is rampant, inflation is spiking – we could go on and on.

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So let’s pause for a moment and hear some thoughts gathered by CBS 2’s Jim Williams. They center around one simple word – hope.

One thing that may be the ultimate sign of optimism is a baby’s birth. With it, the belief that a newborn’s future – in this world, even with all of it difficulties – can be bright.

“It is definitely new challenges, new adventures – but it’s all amazing,” said Simone Ithier,

Simone and Rolando Ithier’s younger daughter, Elana, was one of the first babies born in the Chicago area on New Year’s Day. She joins big sister Aurelia.

“You always want the best for your children – and there’s a lot of things going on in the world, right now, that are challenging and difficult,” said Rolando Ithier. “And you know, it’s having our kids with us – and in this life with us – kind of just brings joy to every single day.”

Simone and Rolando have lived through the challenges. She is a former ER nurse. He is a 911 supervisor. They’ve seen the good too.

“Seeing the police officers and firefighters and the nurses and the doctors and all the people on the front line who couldn’t kind of take a step back – how to just go into it and keep the work – was another inspiration,” Rolando said.

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Also an inspiration are food and toy giveaways – too many to count, for the holidays and throughout the year.

When disaster strikes, people rally around those who are hurting. Last year, people simply Googled “Naperville tornado,” got directions, and showed up with brooms and shovels.

“I am encouraged by the compassion of the people,” said the Rev. David Bryant.

The Rev. Bryant, of the Allen Metropolitan CME Church in Roseland, is moved by all those who’ve volunteered at his COVID testing and vaccination events.

“These last years have been the most demanding of my ministry – without a doubt,” Bryant told CBS 2’s Williams. “But in it, Jim, I have experienced the power and the creativity and the love like I’ve never seen it before.”

In an often-troubled world, the good is reflected all around us – offering reason for hope in 2022.

“Just keep thinking positive,” said Simone Ithier. “It’s just a matter of time we’re going to get through this.”

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“Better things are coming for sure,” said Rolando Ithier.