• 20/20 Vision

    As we enter the new year, the fact that it is year 2020 may give us some hope that we will see the future more clearly and that things are, accordingly, about to get better. But if we are really on the threshold of a new era, in which we are all blessed with perfect vision as to what is to come, what might we expect to see?

    The bad news is that 20/20 vision is sure to alert us to a number of developments that are less than welcome. It may be, therefore, that seeing clearly into the future will show us what must be changed or avoided, rather than what we might welcome or whose arrival we might wish to hasten.

    There are, sadly, a number of issues that are already with us or on the horizon and to which our natural response might be to slam on the brakes or do a sudden u-turn. And worse, they tend to be issues in respect of which we are powerless bystanders or onlookers, with little or no capacity to change the course of events.

    Take, for instance, the supposed “world leaders” who are likely to be still with us. Donald Trump, whose international policy blunders have already made the world a more dangerous place, is already talking about space – not so much as “the new frontier” as “the new theatre of war”. The rest of the “free world” might well be glad to see the back of him, but his “base” are all too likely to want him re-elected.

    And what about Vladimir Putin? The Russian leader seems determined not to be trumped by Trump and is now boasting about the Russian development of new “hypersonic” nuclear missiles which will, he maintains, give Russia the advantage over the US. Are we really happy to see our futures in the hands of such madmen?

    But then there are other issues, of equal or even greater significance and carrying perhaps even worse threats to our survival, where we are not powerless to make a change – not so much as individuals but through adding our voices to a growing consensus on what needs to be done.

    Global warming is one such issue – an issue which so threatens the survival of the human race that it has provoked protests and demonstrations around the world. On global warming, at least, we are not obliged to sit quietly and take what comes – we can ensure that our leaders understand the strength of our opinions and feelings and that, before it is too late, they take the actions that are needed if the worst is to be avoided.

    But these issues are all global in scale and many will feel that they are going to be decided by those well beyond our sphere of influence. So, is there nothing we can do as individuals in the new year that will make a difference?

    I believe that there are things we can do in the new year and beyond that will make our world safer and more enjoyable. The way we each behave to others is entirely within our own individual control, and something we can decide for ourselves. We can all make our own lives happier and more fulfilling if we contribute to a society that functions on the basis of kindness to each other and to all the other living creatures with whom we share the planet.

    We all know the pleasure that acts of kindness bring to us – whether we are the initiators or the recipients. My wife and I have the good fortune to live in a small community where kindness is the dominant quality and prevailing ethos. It makes us all feel better – about ourselves and about each other, and it gives us hope that humanity can find a way to save itself from the perils that face us.

    We can each set our own standards as to how we live our lives and treat others. 20/20 vision, as we enter the new year, should help us to plot a course that avoids the obvious pitfalls and makes the most for all of us of what life in our beautiful country can offer us.

    Bryan Gould
    6 January 2020