Just like birthdays are for individuals, anniversaries and calendar milestones are good occasions for communities, societies and nations to take a step back and take stock of what happened since the last time the same milestone was marked.
As the point in time when we renew our calendars is the universally accepted turning point in our communal life, it should be considered a good opportunity to review and assess how we fared over the past year and what we could expect from the next.
In our small town of Ponoka, the recent gang violence, which shook the community, has just demonstrated how vulnerable our peaceful lives are and how easily the image of law and order can be shattered by people who live right among us.
In the province, we have seen yet again that our politicians fail to learn from mistakes and they keep sticking to their old ways: Dependency on bitumen royalties, a trade mark policy of Progressive Conservatives has once again brought our finances to the brink of disaster, so much so that the fear of strong criticism has led our newly installed premier to recruit MLAs from the official opposition.
At the national level, Prime Minister’s “high moral ground” foreign policy led Canada into the Middle Eastern swamp, and was quickly reciprocated with attacks on Canadian soil, including one targeting the nation’s seat of sovereignty.
Internationally, we have had two new developments with potentially far reaching consequences: The crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s intervention there have created a volatile situation that has the potential to threaten both political stability and the fragile economies of the old continent. In the Middle East, the emergence of the Islamic State, despite all talk of successful air strikes, still threatens to disintegrate Iraq and Syria and to create new proxy entities in the area that will make it easier for outside powers to manipulate further the regional balance of power or lack thereof.
On the economic front, Saudi Arabia single-handedly continues to drive down the price of oil for both political and economic gain, causing havoc in countries that rely on oil revenues, including Canada.
And last but not least, it doesn’t mean what didn’t happen in 2014 will not happen in 2015 or in 2016: The financial storm that has been brewing with continued money printing and monetization of debt will reach hurricane proportions by the time it arrives, but irresponsible politicians and bankers continue to suppress the levers that could help reduce the size of the bubble we live in.
As one can clearly conclude, this is not a bright picture, not to say nasty.
How hopeful can we realistically be in terms our fortunes changing for the better? Probably not much, at least in the short term.
The conflicts and culture of confrontation that shape our lives both as individuals and communities/nations appear to have an amazing ability to reproduce themselves thanks to the mastery of powers that be to use, spin, manipulate and exploit a wide variety of factors both to cling on to their positions and to perpetuate tensions to justify their practices.
And why do we always seem incapable of hanging on to the hope of peace and stability whenever it somehow emerges?
Could it be because the dividends of peace and harmony are much harder to monopolize and exploit than the profits of conflict and confrontation?
Happy New Year…