Happy New Year?


As one year ends and a new year dawns, our attention is drawn to 3 things – a review of the year just ended, predictions for the New Year, and defining of our hopes and aspirations for the year ahead of us, for our country, for our families, for our own self, personally and professionally.

Review of the year just ended will be done by the media, socio-economic and political ‘experts’, pundits and analysts, and by all of us of our own personal year gone by, with its ups and downs, its exhilarations and its pains.

As far as predictions are concerned, once upon a time predictions for the new year were the domain of soothsayers of all ilk, from readers of tarot cards, tea leaves and coffee cups, to astrologers and pirs, and not to forget scientists and, economists and even politicians! But nowadays, with social media providing a platform to everyone to become an authority on every subject, you can expect predictions for the new year to fly thick and fast from all around, on everything ranging from geopolitics to celebrity marriages and breakups!

The third pull of the New Year, defining of aspirations, is much more personal to each individual, even though most of us will have individual hopes and also joint aspirations shared with a few close people, be they be family or friends or work associates. The individual aspiration is perhaps best symbolized by the New Year resolution, even if it often about what one is not going to be doing in the new year (e.g. not smoke, not drink, etc.), rather than what one will be doing which they were not doing before!

Every time a New Year comes around, ushered in with fireworks, parties and general celebration, euphoric optimism seizes us and we all look forward to a ‘happy new year’. As if a mere change of a single date will bring to a sudden end all the sad things in life of the past 365 days, and the world will be born again, pure and harmonious. This of course does not happen. Cannot happen. The calendar year may have changed, but no one told all the wars in the world, the poverty cycle, the global climate upheaval and so forth, that they too must change for the better instantly with the change of the date.

I am sorry to sound like a party pooper but emotionalism based on illogical premises apart, the undeniable reality is that in this New Year, things may actually get a lot worse on several fronts for human society. Indications of this were already surfacing in the closing months of 2017. For 2018, the Top Five alarm bells:

  1. Conflict in the Middle East will deepen with its repercussions spreading wider. War and civil strife started or abetted by the West in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt and Libya has already caused immense human tragedy and mayhem. Which international or natural law gave the West the right to bring about (or try to bring about) regime change in these countries? Was Iraq worse off for Iraqis under Saddam than it is now after ‘liberation’, with a million dead? Was Assad all that bad for Syrians, or is Syria better now with a quarter of a million dead and hundreds of thousands of others maimed, homeless, starving? Oh, dictators are bad for the people of these countries? Then what about repressive monarchies the West staunchly supports?

 

  1. ‘Clash of Civilizations’ will intensify. With so-called Islamist extremism continuing to rise, intolerance for Muslims by everyday people in some Western countries, notably USA, will further deepen. Add to this the influx of more than half a million refugees into Europe from mainly Muslim countries (not only Syria), and one can expect growth in misunderstandings and hostility between people of different cultures and religions.

Irony here again is that for decades the USA has intentionally misinformed its people that Iran is the enemy, even though every terrorist organization working its inhumane agenda globally,              is anti-Iran and anti-Shia – Al Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram, Shahab-Milli and now ISIS. Does America not know who has been funding and training these terrorists? Of course it does. Does              America not know through which country’s ports ISIS has been shipping its oil and raking in hundreds of millions of dollars? Of course it does.

 

  1. Global climate change will continue if not increase its havoc. Unprecedented floods in UK and Europe, frequent tropical storms and cyclones in America, and disruptive, unpredictable and severe climatic phenomenon in many other parts of the world occurring with increasing frequency in recent years, are a stark indicator of things to come. Resolutions and promises made at World Climate Summit 2015 in Paris apart, climate change cannot be simply stopped with a flick of a switch. The pace of environmental degradation in the past several decades has far outstripped the ability of Nature to regenerate itself. Some experts believe that even if ALL human activity is brought to a stop (theoretically), it will still be a hundred years at least before Nature can achieve some level of equilibrium.

 

  1. Global economic growth will stagnate. With growth in China slowing down, commodity prices remaining low, bailouts in EU in recent years still not reigniting growth as was hoped, and wars in different regions continuing, the only people who will be making any real money and achieving ‘growth’ in 2018 will be arms manufacturers, the illegal arms trade, drug barons, human smugglers and purveyors of other nefarious goods and services.

 

  1. World society’s slide into disorder will continue. We are living in the Age of Disinformation. The media has an agenda. If distorting the truth or even telling outright lies is required to follow the agenda, then this is done with impunity. Even the social media has effectively become anti-social. Rumours and falsehood are shared with abandon. Images are photo-shopped and videos are doctored to be presented as irrefutable evidence. The distinction between what is the truth and what are malicious lies has become very blurred.

The information and communications technology revolution, instead of making us better informed, bring people closer together, develop understanding and uphold high moral values, has              instead fostered hostility and a deep sense of insecurity in all of us. Facebook and Twitter for example have made people much more judgmental. Personal human contact and communication  has been replaced by electronic messaging. People are becoming loners. Society is becoming increasingly angry and intolerant. Think Donald Trump and his millions of followers.

So if is not going to be such a happy new year after all in 2018, what is to be done? The answer is quite simple really. YOU have to make a difference. Let your new year resolution not be just about yourself – the new car you will get, or the new professional zenith you will reach, or all the new countries you will travel to. Or at least, make not one but two new year resolutions. One about your own personal ambitions, and the other about the difference you will make, at whatever level and by whatever degree, in the lives of others.

And on that note I will leave you to ponder over my all-time favourite quote, which is a humanitarian call to action for all of us – anyone with a conscience.

The quote is by a lady I have deep respect and admiration for. Perhaps most of you have never even heard of her. But I hope you will make the effort to learn more about her and her work, for true inspiration.

The lady is Dr. Jane Goodall, the world’s leading primatologist and this is what she once said:

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Wishing you all strength to respond to Jane Goodall’s words of wisdom, and wishing you a Happy New Year!

Bob Bhai

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