Sunday,21 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1421, (6 - 12 December 2018)
Sunday,21 April, 2019
Issue 1421, (6 - 12 December 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Is paradise lost again?

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi
President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi

We have embarked on the beginning and the end of a year, an era, an age and a time in our lives that will soon be gone, never to return.

December launches a season of festivities in the Christian world and perhaps the whole world, which culminates in the celebratory birth of a new year. 

Engaged as we may be in our festivities, preparations and anticipations, the thought of the future lurks constantly, somewhere at the back of our minds. We concentrate on our children — their gifts, their joys, their studies and the world that awaits them. What will it be like?

We find ourselves at an impasse. Could it lead us to a future world of great prosperity, economic growth, food for all, peace among nations, dreams that will be realised, for our children?

Or, on the other hand, is the world as we know it gasping its last breath?

 Like humans, civilisations too are born, live, flourish, and die. As we look around us, the G20 Economic Summit in Argentina does not quite fill us with hope. 

History has not abated the lust for power. What has abated is the ideology of liberalism that once flourished among the industrialised countries. Distrust, conspiracies, social discrimination, and ethnic bias have been enkindled once again leaving us a world perilous and perturbed. 

Consider those countries that have led us to democracy, prosperity, equality and liberty. Britain’s Brexit shows discontent with the EU, the EU is focused on global warming, or more appropriately, climate change, Germany regrets migration, everyone is sceptical of Saudi Arabia, the Israelis have a carte-blanche to do as they please; the US is mad at China; China is mad at the US… what kind of world are we leaving our children?

Yet we are still at the crossroad. December’s joys and festivities, of silver bells and bright lights, of loving and giving, and the spirit of good will to all mankind, may end up giving mankind a happy new year and many more to come.

Why drown ourselves in a destructive mood when our leaders are capable of doing that on their own?

We, as a human race, have acquired a good deal of wisdom through the ages, although it is often hidden behind cowardice and fear. What we need is to be totally convinced in our belief that we are here for a purpose… a good purpose. God placed us here so we can help each other and make the world he created a better place for future generations.

If you think this is rather a Pollyannic view, you may be right, so what? Why not be the optimists that we can be? What we need is leaders — great, dedicated, hard-working, patriotic leaders. Leaders who have eyes, ears and hearts, leaders who have the wisdom to seek the best advice, leaders whose only responsibility is the welfare of their people. We need leaders in hope.

“Of the people, for the people, by the people” is what creates perfect leaders.

We can have such leaders. History is replete with names of great leaders who led their people to glory. If we had them before, why can we not have them again? It is up to the people. How often do we forget our own power? Why should others decide our destiny? We are too lazy to make our own destiny. 

“It takes work”, as President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi once said.

Detached and disinterested, conscientious patriots are not. They are active, engaged, hard working citizens, concerned for their country, for its future, for the future of their children.

If this is beginning to sound like optimism vs pessimism, so be it. These may be hard times to be an optimist, but so be it. We must rid ourselves of this destruction mode. We must overcome. 

Freedom is not free. To quote Churchill, the cost is “blood, toil, tears and sweat”.

The image of the world as we know it or as it once was is fading fast. It will indeed be “a whole new world” for our children, and judging from the goings-on of today, we cannot help but wonder and worry about tomorrow. 

Quibbling over trade agreements, these great leaders complain about migrants, climate, refugees, when there are so many issues more consequential to the rest of us. Economics can solve much more than their ambitions allow, and at the conclusion, dare they think “All’s well with the world”.

In his best-selling book The Strange Death of Europe (2017) British author Douglas Murray believes that Europe is “a continent caught in the act of suicide”. The reasons being low birth-rates, mass immigration, self- distrust, self-hatred and an inability to agree among themselves. Is the European Union united?

What a gloomy picture to look forward to. What a fractured group of people have those great nations become.

We refuse to accept this premise. If they made a mess, they can fix it. They must.

Can you think of a better time than now, when peace and goodwill are the predominant themes of the season?

As we absorb the joy of the season, of loving and giving, and watch the wonder in our children’s eyes at the sight of a new toy, our hearts are filled with the spirit of goodness.

What would we not do to please our children?

 Make heaven on earth and regain their lost paradise.

“All human wisdom is summed up in two words: wait and hope.”

Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) 

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