"Come to the edge, He said. They said, We are afraid. Come to the edge, He said. They came. He pushed them... and they flew."
I've probably used this wonderful poem before, maybe even more than once. It's perhaps my favourite poem.
Anyway over the last few days, prodded by this and that I have an increasing feeling that the end of this year marks such a moment in the history of humankind. Maybe even more than as we moved into a new millennium. This is our chance to fly.
It seems to me that we have reached a tipping point, but strangely after such a terrible year, I feel somewhat more optimistic than before.
It has indeed been a terrible few years. I think for me it began with Brexit - an ongoing disaster in waiting I have to say - continued with Donald Trump, China becoming increasingly belligerent and culminated in COVID19 of course. Well I say culminated but of course all of these things have been ongoing - and there are many more as well, still ongoing. No I won't bother to list all the woes of the world. You all know what they are. I guess nothing will ever be perfect
COVID however, has made me strangely optimistic. It seems to me that it has brought out the best in humanity- and inevitably some of the worst too I suppose - but mostly the best. People have been kind, goodness, even governments have been kind - at least temporarily - by helping the disadvantaged and the small businesses that make up most of the economy. People have been innovative - socially, artistically, scientifically and technologically. Some people have even managed to profit from it all - but then somebody always does. But look there are vaccines available now - after just a year, when vaccines have, in the past, taken so much longer to develop and test. There is still no vaccine for AIDS and probably other diseases too - Malaria being just one. Climate change has strangely come into focus again - perhaps because of the temporarily clearer skies in the cities of the world. Disparities in wealth, advantage, education, etc. have become more apparent. Governments have actually foregone their focus on balancing budgets and stepped up to help the disadvantaged. Not everywhere of course - America, alas is a poor example and lots of Europe too but lessons have been learned. And Donald Trump has gone. Well we all hope so.
We watched David Attenborough's documentary on climate change with a sinking heart at first, because so much damage has been done. And yet there is hope. I do firmly believe that all the problems of the world, particularly perhaps those of climate change are solvable right now. On a small scale by everyone doing their bit - and increasingly we are - and on a large scale by governments listening to scientists and engineers, and each other - all of whom, I am sure could solve everything if the will was there. And yes, I do think, like my husband, that overpopulation is the fundamental problem that nobody ever mentions, but even that could be solved with enough effort and over time. There is still just enough.
So here we stand at the start of a new year. A new president in the USA with an energetic and young Vice President - a female at last. Their task is enormous, because, frankly America is a basket case at the moment, but I do believe they have the right intentions. Let's just hope they can bring the rest of the government and the people with them. Let's hope that China will calm down and be content to focus on the well-being of their own people. The end of the long tunnel of COVID19 is in sight and Brexit and all the other trade and cultural conflicts will be solved somehow, although it may well take a long time.
I'm fundamentally a glass half full person I think. I looked for suitable glass half full images, and found a few, but thought this one perhaps showed the current situation best. Drowning but still waving and with still some hope of clear air. Perhaps not quite optimistic enough as the figure is relying on outside help and really it is up to us to solve this one, not some God in the sky.
It is strange that I should feel that we are at a turning point, because realistically we are at a turning point all the time. Perhaps it all seems particularly dire at the moment, although I do remember in my youth being convinced the world was going to destroy itself with a nuclear war. Alas my generation proceeded to destroy the world's climate without thinking about it. There were great minds at work, but alas they did not focus on the right things. And so we turn to the young to save us this time. Such a pity that the world's leaders are virtually all old men, and not young women. As I have progessed through life I have come to the conclusion that men and women are actually different species with very little in common, no matter how hard we try to bring them up in the same way. Men will not compromise. Yes a sweeping generalisation I know but still generally true. Women on the other hand do not generally stand up to them. Almost anything for a peaceful life. But isn't that what we want?
Ok - I'm going nowhere and this has nothing to do with food - other than to point out that we could feed everybody on the planet equitably if the will was there. So I will end with one of David's favourite quotes from a much longer poem:
"Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Only through time time is conquered." T.S. Eliot
Now is the time to hope and do what we can to help. We are still here. Let's plan for a better future.