The most heartening event of the last decade was the peaceful, democratic transition in South Africa. When you think of current situations that seem hopeless, think back to apartheid era South Africa, and try to imagine that regime ending with anything other than a bloodbath.
Some of the scale of change in South Africa can be glimpsed in the historically ironic news that the National Party (now called the New National Party) is seeking an alignment with the ruling African National Congress.
The National Party was the architect of apartheid and ran the country until the elections that saw Nelson Mandela become the first president of a truly democratic South Africa. It was also, of course, the party that intelligently sowed the seeds of its own destruction (and averted that bloodbath) by the historic rapprochement between FW de Klerk and Mandela.
As a somewhat regular visitor to South Africa during the transition, I have simultaneously boggled at the difficult problems the country faces and felt uplifted by the number of determined, intelligent people trying to find a path to a successful future.