(Picture – Gambian Children)
As this year slowly edges towards its end, the starkness of how far the world has shifted from a centre of balance is unnerving. The world appears to be teetering on the brink (“the limit or point beyond which something begins to happen”).
Instability is evident everywhere. There is dramatic wealth inequality and its impact on the global economy, as businesses shut, layoffs occur and governments push austerity.
There are increasing terrorist activities and the displacement of people throughout much of the world through war and poverty.
The movement to political extremism and fascism in Europe, other countries even the United States is unsettling; a phenomenon mostly suppressed after the human catastrophe of the Second World War.
Many have already fallen over the edge, trying to escape from political oppression, dire poverty and brutal wars dying at the hands of despicable human traffickers.
Others have unnecessarily been killed in wars that continue because it is profitable for many and political advantageous to many governments, even democracies.
With each threat and each terrorist attack, fear grows and the chance of a military mistake or error expands exponentially.
The efforts to reduce environmental destruction and ensuing environmental impacts still loom large, despite the new agreement that has been reached, as many governments and businesses are still skeptics.
This year will go down in history as the year the world reached the edge. A misstep by any country engaged in the many active wars could trigger the destruction of most of human life.
Personally, it has been a year on the edge for me as well, as I struggled to finish my house and rent it in order to continue my charity work in Africa.
Attempts to establish a foundation to support this effort has been stymied by rules and policies created by a government, to whom poverty appeared a curse and the fault of those impoverished; rather than a cause which needed attention.
Living on the edge stretches ones patience, tests one’s endurance and causes deep reflection on the meaning and value of life and what is important. It is not difficult to succumb to fear, bitterness and hatred, in fact, it requires effort not too.
But, when one looks at the rest of the world, or works directly with people in despair, suffering from poverty and its human effects, and compares it to the privilege of having a loving supportive family and friends, accommodations, food, and relative comfort, one realizes how blessed is life.
Moving back from the edge and becoming more centered is no easy task, neither individually, nor nationally or globally. It takes a concentrated effort to overcome the paralysis of fear and to come together with those who can and will provide support and those who have need.
As the world sits precariously on the brink of mass devastation and far from a centre of balance, more than platitudes and fragile agreements are required.
The theme of most of my writing this year has been related to human perseverance and the power of people in building a renewed morality and value base to create a stronger and more caring society based on love and compassion.
There are signs of change and a movement for a fairer more balanced society. Pope Francis has been a leading light in this movement, but there are others.
One can consider the response by so many in Europe, especially German Chancellor Merkel, to the overwhelming arrival of so many migrants and refugees, despite the negativity by others steeped in fear and ignorance.
It was exemplified by the French, in the midst of their grief for their tragedy of loss, as the result of a few terrorists, who espoused their continued support for accepting a large number of refugees.
In Canada, the overwhelming election of a government whose mandate was based on a caring compassionate country was significant. Canada and its young Prime Minister Trudeau have become a source of hope all over the world.
Canadians have lived up to their voting commitment for a renewed compassionate society with an overwhelming supportive response in the efforts to bring 25,000 refugees as quickly as possible.
That is not to say that even in Canada, there aren’t those steeped in fear and prejudice who resist this effort and espouse vitriol about refugees. But, the shining light of compassion by so many exemplifies the power of people who care.
At the core of every human lies the promise of unconditional love and the need to share. This is not the possession of any belief, culture or religion; it is the foundation of human existence.
Take a moment to think of all those less fortunate in this world as we collectively try and bring some balance in the world and build a human society founded on care, compassion and unconditional love for all.
May the New Year bring the world back to its senses and ensure consideration and concern for every human and all the creatures that share this planet.
William (Bill) Pardy
December 18th, 2015