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OP-ED: Hopeful in 2021

  • Published at 11:55 am January 9th, 2021
river pollution
Can our rivers be saved? Syed Zakir Hossain

We should aim for peace, not for power

Things don’t always go your way. You had a year that, first, trapped you in your home, and then, you had to defy everything, defy the virus, defy the lockdown in order to earn your living and survive. Many of us had 2020 and some of us learned from our experience.

And when the new year came, you looked up at the horizon with hope, hope to remain unvanquished by anything less than human.

That was everyone’s hope.

Mine too.

I am looking forward to three major developments in 2021. One: Distribution of the vaccines for all in all nations. Two: 2021 would be a year to fix the climate change catastrophes that are in the offing. Three: I hope for a deeply spiritual (not religious) globe that will care for every living species, not just humans.

However, the first week hasn’t augured well for the year. The disturbing assault on US Capitol Hill has shocked the world. Many countries across the world do have their own political problems, but nothing like this has happened in the name of protest. Boastful America will require many years to wipe away this dark incident from their history.

This was something that we haven’t been expecting.

The attack has again shown the ugly teeth of white supremacy in the US. They were waving confederate flags. What if all the attackers were black? How many would have died? More than 14,000 people were arrested in the Black Lives Matter march when George Floyd was killed. 

Amazingly, there were only some 60 arrests for the Capitol attack. Police officials posed for selfies with the assaulters and walked them down the steps holding hands.

Oops! America is, indeed, in great trouble!

Now, the biggest challenge for humanity this year will be to make the Covid vaccine available for every living human on the planet. Almost everybody in every country is eagerly waiting for the vaccine. But do we truly want to make the vaccine available for all across the world? I have my doubts.

We need to remember that we are that lot who cannot even make food available for every human on Earth. As the vaccine diplomacy heats up, we’re getting reports that richer countries have bought almost all vaccines from the manufacturers even before they hit the market. Some countries have even bought more than they need for their people.

I would term this as “naked selfishness.”

To my mind, the year 2021 will be the most important one as far as caring for climate change issues are concerned. We have already seen how America, led by Donald Trump, has spoiled a combined initiative in order to save the climate. The new President-elect, Joe Biden, has, however, promised to prioritize the climate agenda. We hope he will stick to his promise if all goes well in his country.

The first week of the new year wasn’t at all good for his country, and he has a daunting task ahead to unify the nation. Back home, in our Bangladesh, 2021 is going to be the most important year since our independence. We will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our existence.

No one in Bangladesh seems to be without hope. On the contrary, all of us seem to be limitlessly enthusiastic about how Bangladesh will race towards wealth. 

We want to be a developed nation. However, we’re only focusing on wealth-generation and perhaps forgetting the dangers of wealth-only and greed-based development.

Since we’re in the middle of the labour pain of development, we’re failing to realize that only wealth cannot make us “happy,” as we have seen in many developed countries.

Our rivers and canals are disappearing. I believe there won’t be any cultivable land left in the next 15 years. We’re finishing the underground water reserves at the speed of light. 

By 2050, it is predicted that one-third of our country will be submerged underwater. By 2100, almost the entire country will go underwater.

It’s exactly at this point I would expect our leaders, planners, and implementers to act spiritually rather than as a development victor. We have just been named, by an international magazine, as one of the 100 most powerful countries of the world. 

Many went gaga over that. But it’s imperative for us to decide whether we want power or whether we want peace. 

Power is boastful and arrogant, and peace is serene and humble. Power is unsustainable, but peace lasts forever. If we fail to fathom the importance of peace, we may find ourselves in the caravan of future miseries.

All you need to do is to study the state of affairs in the US, the once-mighty and arrogant country.

I am trying to remain hopeful in 2021. 

Ekram Kabir is a yogi, a story-teller, and a communications professional. His other works can be found on ekramkabir.com.

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