Monday, June 05, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 15, 1444 H
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Retrospective, the way I see it

The year seems to have been permanently in crisis with instability, insecurity, violence, and climate change.

The year 2022 has been a passionate and tumultuous one, like a cat toying with a mouse. Emotions are high, and people are expressing themselves more vigorously. The year seems to have been permanently in crisis with instability, insecurity, violence, and climate change. Volatile! Perhaps, as a result of the after-effects of the global pandemic, everybody shows signs that they want to catch up with everything: wealth, success, material fulfilment, power, you name it.

In February, Russia launched its so-called ‘military operation’ in Ukraine, displacing millions of people and destroying infrastructure. World leaders seem paralysed in the face of what looks like a chess game.

When Queen Elizabeth died, the world was able to see a royal burial in real time. The magnificent ceremonies were captured for the first time when cameras were permitted to record inside a British monarch’s cenotaph.

In Iran, the women’s movement demanding justice, reform, and rights saw blood spilled across the country. This is a reminder of their enduring struggle for freedom and achievements in 1979 – with a difference: the internet has now provided a platform for virtual communities within and outside the country.

Mass protests in China, the largest the country has seen since 1989: a challenge to the government’s zero-Covid policy. It is not surprising that a crackdown on VPNs and social media platforms occurred.

Afghanistan’s women’s status has faded into the dust of the sand. The brave, educated girls and women who helped the country to improve living standards receive little attention. Shame on those who set the country’s population back into the darkness. Misogyny is spreading like fire across the globe.

The Palestinian case is very much alive on the internet. The casualties of the Syrian war have faded from public view, while Sri Lanka made headlines with its worst economic and political crisis in decades. Violence, discrimination, and racism have become commonplace in many parts of the world.

Environmental disasters and natural hazards have battered Australia, South Sudan, Venezuela, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Oman, Pakistan, Guatemala, the USA, and Indonesia, to name a few.

The world population topped 8 billion in November posing challenges to feeding, health, and education care, particularly in poorer countries. The cost of living is also part of this tumultuous year. Over half of the world’s population, according to the UN Food and Agriculture (FAO), can’t afford a decent diet. The Food Foundation noted that people are eating less or skipping meals entirely. Humanitarian crises indicate that 95 million people are living in extreme poverty.

While all is going on, the market for military equipment, explosives, weapons, and tear gas is booming. These are lucrative industries. A football stampede in Indonesia that killed more than 170 people was caused by tear gas, the country’s security minister has acknowledged.

The highs and lows of 2022 have been the worst in recent times. Democratic influence is gradually eroding. Institutional mistrust is on the rise, as is a war on the free press and the elimination of tools for holding authorities accountable. We see deception, control, manipulation, and outright lying.

It is such a relief that no ‘modern or populist’ leader decided to create a new calendar. This one, the Gregorian, which was introduced in 1582, is just perfectly synced with the solar system. So, my hopes for 2023 remain strong, though there are predictions that we will be facing a global recession.

A few countries that had not adopted the Gregorian had started using the Catholic church calendar to save money on civil servant financial arrangements but kept the lunar cycle for cultural celebrations - which fits best. Like everything else, the 2022 World Cup had its surprises! A new chapter in the storytelling process starts in 2023. My best wishes to all.

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