Note before I start - lest anyone be confused, I am not American.
I am 67 years old now. I survived a heart attack in 2008 and I am once again extremely healthy, but having been that close to death, I am aware just how precious life is and how each moment has to be enjoyed. You also are aware that you could die any time - in April 2008 I could not have predicted what would happen the following month, there were no signs that anything could go wrong.
Anyway, I wish that I could be optimistic. The world economy is in better shape than it was at the end of 2008, but there is a very long way to go - ask the unemployed in Greece and Spain if you want a reality check some time.
Getting back to the sort of economy that many of us had in the 1950s and 1960s when living standards were rising across the board and unemployment (and the related stigma and the related poverty) was extremely low?
That should be the ideal, but we are nowhere near.
And resolving the issues in the Middle East .... Well it will help if people start getting real as to what is happening in Syria in particular where it is not a straight fight between the "good guys" and "the bad guys", but rather a whole series of different conflicts with all sorts of groups fighting each other (the evil Al Qaeda affiliate is fighting its evil jihadist brother, ISIS, for one thing) and it will very likely be a question of picking whom you least dislike
But when you live in my adopted country (Germany) and you see the tensions that are ensuing from the mass influx of refugees (surely somebody else apart from Austria and Canada ought to be able to help?), the need to get the Syrian situation sorted out sooner rather than later is evident. The chances of a solution in 2016? Not high IMHO.
From my own perspective I would like to see religion (whatever brand) become a matter of personal belief and not be apparent in the public sphere. I particularly share the concerns of many people in Europe about increasing Islamisation - an an open-minded liberal atheist I can see nothing at all liberal about Islam - but the consequent rise of Neo-Nazism as an alternative? No thank you.
This is though going to be the issue for Europe for the next 30-40 years. Quite what the solution is?
Not much hope then on the horizon? Not really, and nothing much coming out of the US to inspire us either. All slogans and slurs, and little by way of a positive agenda with solutions. I hope though that I am wrong.