I have listened to, heard, read and watched many leaders worldwide, making their statements and proclamations during the last year. And it is all pretty depressing; the COVID pandemic aside, we, as a civilised society, seem to have taken on very few lessons from the past.
Of course, there is hope for the future, and I am a persistent optimist, and there are definitely flickers of light shimmering in the future of 2021 and beyond. But those flickers of light, of hope, are fragile and could be so easily snuffed out by the callous actions of unthinking leaders.
It is self-defeating to fall back on the false premise that one person - you - won't make a difference.
If only one person threw their litter out of their car window, there would be very little rubbish on our road-sides. But if everyone did, you wouldn't be able to see the road. The fact that so many people who know better still throw their garbage out of their car window is shaming. However, there are people who volunteer themselves to wander down the road or along the beach with a sack picking up other peoples litter - just because it needs to be done and because they are there and can do it - it happens.
"Ones" do make a difference. Every day, there are people out there making a positive difference to other peoples lives; both individual lives and the lives of all of us. The nurse, holding the hand of the dying patient who is all alone because of COVID restrictions. The chemist working sixteen hours a day to urgently find a cure for a disease. The person who at some cost to themselves, buys an electric car in order to pollute less. The individual who limits their shower to two and a half minutes to save energy. The night worker who pulls and extra shift because they are needed.
So many people - ordinary people, who are making a massive difference every day and yet others who just quit - even before they have started. All because they can't believe that they can make a difference. They don't believe that one single vote or an individual making an effort can bring change.
The truth is, of course, is that anyone who bothers to look can see people all over the world making a difference every single minute of every single day. Individuals - a single person - doing their thing and making a difference. It is essential beyond doubt that everyone fully understands that they can and do or could make a difference.
Having established that everyone can make a difference, we must address the question of what difference a person should aim to make?
Usually, we think of self and family first, community second and perhaps country, and depending on the character of the person will depend on the order of preference, these goals are put.
But what I am suggesting is that we reorder our preferences of care - we think not just of ourselves, but more of our world. So, as an individual, our priorities might change or expand to look like this:
I am a responsible person, and I am going to take responsibility for myself, for the care of my loved ones and for the work I do in the field of my choice. But as a citizen of the world, I am also going to promote and actively support the international drive to 1) cease the destruction of our natural environment 2) to clean-up our planet 3) to encourage and vote for good international leadership of all countries 4) I am going to make a Hippocratic oath of sorts to myself - To do as little harm as I can to our world during my lifetime and as much good as I am able.
The fact is that if everyone picked up some litter, there wouldn't be any. Just as if everyone voted for a leader who was honest, with demonstrated integrity and ability - all countries and our world would be much better off, as we all would and the planet we live on and all the other creatures we share it with.
We just all have to understand, to comprehend - that we can - as so many already do - make a difference.
As in the adage; The harder I work, the luckier I get - perhaps, the more ways I can make a difference, the more reasons I will have to smile.
I wish you all a 2021 - packed full of smiles and perhaps even a few fat laughs.
Rick - Suffolk - UK - 31st December 2020