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Heralding 2018!

Heralding 2018!
That an entire year would eventually roll by is inevitable. The fact that 2018 has been ushered in with so much hope and expectation is also understandable. Last year started with a good deal of apprehensions and, sadly, most of them came true. Conflicts, unrest, and tension prevailed in virtually all the continents. The scourge of terrorism continues to confound everyone. There is no gainsaying that this has to be tackled on a war footing by all countries under the umbrella of United Nations, which had replaced the League of Nations to be an effective body that would ensure peace in all its manifestations. That this huge "Club of Nations" was being criticised for its growing irrelevance was primarily because several major nations seemed to lack both a sense of responsibility and conscientiousness. They have to rise above their interests and politics to ensure the prevalence of sense and sensibility. As matters stand, peace is at a premium. Starting with the Middle East where several countries have established their own agendas, the signals could not have been more negative. Beginning with Syria, Iraq, Iran and moving on to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Palestine and Israel—nothing is predictable anymore. Bloodshed, bombing, and casualties apart, the region has yielded a record number of refugees along with several African countries. Many have perished in the seas while trying to escape; many others are still awaiting their turn for a new abode in the congested refugee camps. Some European Nations have allowed many of them in. The consequences have not been particularly pleasant. With most European citizens standing against refugees being provided shelter, leaders like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany had to face the brunt. Predictions about her diminishing popularity came true after the election results were announced at Berlin. Germany is now hard put to cobble up a coalition that is to be led by Merkel. New French President, Emmanuel Macron has turned out to be a staunch ally. Other European countries are trying their best to ensure 'peace' at any cost. For, only when there is peace and stability, can there be progress, development and the scope for so much more constructive thinking, planning and action. Ultimately, let there be peace in thought, word and deed. True, every year has its highs and lows, but the lows make the news and remain etched in the mind for their various wrong reasons. The European Union is striving for greater unity and understanding, even as some countries may choose to opt out and fend for themselves. Britain is still trying hard to come to terms with the aftermath of Brexit, and the consequent pressure that Prime Minister Theresa May has to contend with is understandable. The United States of America has to be more unified and Americans must rise above themselves after the most controversial, contentious and, arguably, the nastiest of elections ever ended a year ago with Donald Trump as the victor. Here is a President labelled by critics as "unpresidential" and "accidental", for the manner in which he chooses to conduct himself. His statements have often been divisive and the manner in which he has been exchanging barks threatening nuclear annihilation with his North Korean counterpart has left everyone intrigued. It is small wonder then that his approval ratings are down to 32 per cent, the lowest for any US President after his first year in office. Obama had a great eight-year tenure, marred at the end by alleged Russian interference during the election build-up. The Founding Fathers of the US must be turning in their graves. Russia, led by a confident but not so popular Vladimir Putin who is all set to retain power till 2024, has to recover from its own problems. There are so many nations living in hope. India is certainly making commendable strides. The international perceptions are positive. But, even as the Defence Forces are ensuring our security, both at the border and during natural disasters, there is quite a large section of people who continue to exist well below the poverty line. We must win the age-old war against poverty, hunger, and illiteracy in these "areas of darkness". The whole Nation is awaiting rapid economic growth to secure its people's happy and smiling faces. As all of this unfolds, we as citizens of this world must all question ourselves about what we are doing to alleviate the critical state of the environment today. Climate change is a reality. The Paris Climate Control treaty must be adhered to at all costs. The whole world, in fact, is left with a choice. And, it is very simple—to choose sanity over madness when it comes to deciding its priorities. Man can no longer afford to lose faith in man. And, if he decides to turn to nature, what state has he left it in? We are all incurable optimists. Circumstances and consequences will, hopefully, force all warmongers to settle for a lasting peace. That, in itself, ought to send us into raptures. What else do we need as a guarantee for happiness?
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