(Picture: Precious children everywhere – Nyima sitting behind her friend Bobbie in The Gambia)
It has been over twenty years that I have been producing this Christmas newsletter and sharing my thoughts on the world and the ups and downs of my own life from many different vantage points and locations. What is evident, as I look back, is the realization of the cycles in my own life and in that of the evolution of the world.
This year it appears that the global downward spiral has reached an unraveling of sorts and one could suggest that it has reached a point of freefall, with little sign of stability anywhere. It would appear that the most progressive society that humanity has ever created is being destabilized by those whose only interest is power. The hard fought gains of previous generations are being laid waste.
The brutality that is being experienced in other countries and the growing intolerance and abuse being witnessed at home in developed countries rival the worse periods of human history. These forces of darkness are rapidly diminishing the positive human values and institutional foundations that have given us the most progressive decades in the history of humankind. Yet, there are no replacements being offered and an absence of compassionate leadership.
Over the past few years there has a downward spiral of opportunity in my own life, which can be attributed to age and societal perceptions that those older have less value and usefulness. This has led to its own unraveling of sorts. As a result it has been a struggle to maintain my own living standards and my mission to support a number of people in The Gambia, one of the poorest countries in the world.
My time and exposure in that country and in other places of the anguish and trauma of extreme poverty, the challenge for survival and early death led me to a decision to provide assistance. Without the support and encouragement of family and friends it would not have been possible.
Life’s challenges and changes are inevitable and provide the learning for what will come next. This message was brought home to me this year being home and watching the struggles of friends and family dealing with the ravages of time through illness and disability with some passing on to the next life. It forced me to reflect on life and aging in a different way by pondering this journey that has been my life, the obstacles and barriers that had to be overcome to progress and survive.
So from the ledge that has been my perch these past two years contemplating life, its shortness and what to do next, a decision had to be made. So, after clearing much of the clutter in my life, I recently decided to head back to Gambia, via Ukraine on my own, to see how I can be of more use to people in dire need of care and support in a country unraveling in its own right.
Globally, one can witness a leap, much greater than mine, being made by many after years of being on the edge. It is evident in the greatest migration in human history as people flee poverty, war, oppression and dictatorial leaders to find a better life for their families and themselves. They often endure hardship, intolerance and abuse in their new homes, but they go anyway, at least it is life.
A different leap is being taken by people in the west, not fully appreciating their relative comfort and security and longing for a non-existent past, they are making a leap of faith to support fantasists offering oppression and dictatorial rule in the guise of promise and paradise. It would appear that the whole world has become unhinged and human values no longer stand on any sure foundation.
Belief, trust, and values – the basis of faith – have been supplanted with a fictional world without truth. Fallacies reign supreme as people rally to the spectacle of violent and abusive language and intolerance. True believers are those who believe and value nothing, not even the value of human life or the environment that is its source.
I would encourage you not to despair, but to realize as I have in my own reflections of the cycles of life. A cycle is a wave with hills and valleys: a wave, much like electric current or a roller coaster. The downward part of the cycle provides the exhilaration and stimulated excitement and upward side provides the pause of stability to ease our fears for the next downturn. Most important is to stay connected to the positive energy that creates the movement in the first place.
Roller coasters create an illusion of disaster with an ending, unlike life, which provides the realities of suffering, destruction and death, but continues. While life is cyclical with its ups and downs, it is humanity that creates the negatives of the downward slope and valleys. Yet, humanity clings tenaciously to life’s energy despite the pain and hardship created by the few.
Life provides the promise of a humanity filled with kindness care and compassion, often stymied and dismissed by those who want to control by destroying its inherent goodness. This past year I have written much about the need for balance in an unbalanced world out of touch with humanity. My articles expressed the need for a caring, compassionate society and the importance of faith and belief for the future. While much can be learned from the past, it is the future that is important. The future is the home for our children, our grandchildren and their children, without whom there will exist a world without humanity.
This current downward cycle, as have others, will pass and the future will be secure if the majority in the free world and those who are able elsewhere tenaciously cling to a belief in the values of truth, trust and respect. Despite the hardships that we may endure as we journey through the valley and up the incline a new plateau for humanity will appear.
As we approach a New Year unfolding, do so with the faith and belief that out of the destruction and waste that is being created by the few will emerge a stronger majority with an enhanced human spirit and a renewed commitment to a better life for all. Hopefully, it will be a future where the words “never again” will have genuine meaning for all of humanity.
May the New Year bring forth a realization of the need for a better world for all, most especially for the children, the most precious gift from life.
Written by Bill Pardy,
December 19th, 2016