Every 12 months as the year changes, we glibly wish each other all the best for the year ahead. Often, this is followed up with a discussion about why we think the year ahead will be a good one.
Let's stand up in 2017 and make the world better
Many people make new year’s resolutions, believing they will make the year ahead better than years past. They also convince themselves that they will keep those resolutions, despite breaking them the previous year - and most years in living memory.
But is this optimism well placed?
Some would say that it is better to be optimistic than not.
Is that really the case? Is it not better to be realistic?
There are a number of crises facing our community in 2017. They include: terrorism in the Middle East and threats of it at home; a very weak economy, particularly in the West, with no evidence of drivers to change this; a Federal Government unable to make the big changes needed to reduce debt and adequately support those in need; and the incapacity of our community to cope with the rate of social, technological and economic change.
Many would add to this list a faltering world economy, the inauguration of Donald Trump, The impact of BREXIT and the threatened move to the extreme right in France and Germany, among other countries.
This is a realistic but bleak story.
But it is not the whole story.
It is also important to consider that despite all of the reporting of terrorism in the media, there were fewer acts of tereror last year that in most years of the 1980s. Despite the weak economy, there are always opportunities and there this year. Federal governments have lacked achievement in just about every year of my life, so why should this year be any different? While change is fast, we are slowly getting used to it as a fact of life.
Economists see the worst in every economy and almost always predict doom. Trump may well prove a disaster, but we survived US President George W. Bush - a man who could not even string two sentences together and had no well-known skills, beyond consuming large amounts of cocaine and whisky in the same sitting. The right has not won anything yet and while last year was full of surprises, this year will be, too.
There was a time when the media reported the facts, stimulating our minds. Today, the media has little interest in the facts, preferring to address our emotions. This includes making us frightened. It all sells newspapers and boosts ratings.
At the end of the day, the quality of your 2017 will largely depend on the efforts of one person – you!
Every year is full of good and bad, and Research clearly demonstrates that 2016 was a better year on most global indicators than most prior. Those measures include poverty, population growth, deaths in war and terrorism. Believe it or not, the world is getting better.
What's more, it is getting better because of the efforts of individuals just like you and me.
Governments will not make it better. Businesses will never make it better. Both politicians and business people are too self-serving. It is up to you and me.
Stop making resolutions you will not keep and stop making excuses for your failure to follow through on your resolutions. You can have the discipline if you want it. Just do it!
Stop thinking about all the things you can do for yourself in 2017 and start thinking more about all the things you can do for others. It is not just politicians and business people who are self-centred.
The biggest problem facing mankind today – as it was 200 years ago – is self-centred planning and behaviour. Our progress is limited by our inclination to be self-centred.
I love the words of Paster Martin Niemollere from World War II.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me
I am also reminded of the words of Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Whether 2017 is a good year or a bad year depends not on your good wishes or your good intentions. It depends on what you DO and what I DO!
The clock is ticking!