2019 – The Troubled Spawn of 2016?

Alternatively titled: Why lunch can unite the world, despite an increasingly screwed up global political climate and a massive rise in intolerance.

It’s the 1st of January 2019, I’m thinking about the state of the world around me, and for the first time in far too long I’m writing (or at least finishing) a post on Mysterious Beans.

I like celebrating things, including New Year’s Eve. I’ll happily go along and feel like I’m being part of something but it has always seemed like a slightly odd reason for a celebration to me. I mean, surely every evening is the day before the start of a new year, a new opportunity, a time to change things or to preserve them. The calendar is just a construct after all, the 1st of January is no different from the 16th of March, apart from the fact that it is a public holiday in many places.

By that logic I could have written this post on any day, but I have chosen to write it today, along with a resolution (another new year tradition I don’t subscribe to) to finish some of the other things I have in ‘draft’ and to write and publish new articles on a regular basis, and thus I have just completely undermined my own argument about new year, so let’s move on…

The reality is that the world is changing in ways that I don’t personally like or think are healthy, and I have a voice which I feel compelled to use to comment on that.

I have come to realise that while I would love to be able to write all encompassing articles that everyone will skip with glee to read and agree with, it just isn’t going to happen. The fact is that not everyone is going to agree with whatever I write about whether it is the best way to roast a potato or who should be running the most powerful nations on earth.

The wonderful thing about this is that we are all free to have an opinion and to disagree with other peoples. Articles 18 and 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights cover freedom of belief, opinion and expression. Anybody who disagrees with those probably isn’t somebody whose opinion I am likely to be overly bothered by anyway.

A step back in time

With that out of the way, I don’t really want to talk so much about events of the last year, but instead about events from three years ago that are still having a massive effect on shaping the world that we live in at the start of 2019.

We live on a beautiful and amazing planet, we are on the way to screwing it up, but we do. We are surrounded by amazing people, and some less amazing ones, but the great ones are out there. Speaking of those people, whatever the political, racial, geographical, economical, philosophical, sexual or gender differences between us there are a few things that absolutely everyone on the planet has in common.

All of the old clichés like ‘If you cut us we all bleed’ are trite but true, and it is also universal that we all eat, digest and then have a dump.

Which brings me neatly to the fact that about three years ago one quarter of the United States populous took a huge dump on not only their own friends and neighbours, but also on the entire population of that country and to only a slightly lower extent on everyone in the world. A couple of years on and Mr Trump is still taking very seriously his chosen role of world clown and ripping apart international agreements and relationships that took decades to build. Just this morning both the United States and Israel formally left UNESCO, due to some perceived anti-Israeli bias.

Around the same time in 2016 there was another vote that I didn’t particularly agree with the result of, and which this year, and in the last few months especially has turned into a screwup of epic proportions.

I don’t have much to say about the complete mess that is Brexit that I haven’t already written, it’s like watching a car crash in ultra slow motion and it is only going to get worse between now and March.

Oh, and back to the Donald…

Irony and B-movies

Am I the only person who finds it more than slightly ironic that one day after the 27th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, the US elected a man who wanted to build a new wall. It was a flip from a massive symbol of a brighter world future to clear signs of a darker one.

B-movie fans might be familiar with the massively xenophobic character of Senator John McLaughlin as played by Robert De Niro in Machete. If you aren’t then I suggest giving it a watch, directed by Robert Rodriquez it is both terrible and brilliant at the same time just as any B-movie should be. I laughed at Sen. McLaughlin when I watched the film, but was probably closer to tears when I watched the US populous pretty much go ahead and elect him.

A few months ago I reposted an article that I wrote following a few days after the Brexit referendum, and explained that I do understand how people can be frustrated with their current situation and vote for a change out of desperation. My concern comes when people vote for that change but don’t actually bother to check what the alternative is actually offering. Turning against an establishment might lead to something better or it might just be a way to kick yourself firmly in the face; it makes sense to find out which.

It worried me three years ago and it still scares the crap out of me that the ‘educated’ populations of our most ‘developed’ nations choose not to progressively become stronger and more united in moving forwards towards a world with more personal freedom and choice, less racism, sexism, homophobia and fear of other religions, but instead elect massively regressive leaders who embody all of the negatives listed above and are also bullies and liars.

Not only is Trump a misogynistic xenophobe who makes decisions with absolutely no concern for the impact they have on future generations or people living in other parts of the world, but he also changes his public world view constantly. Now, in addition to the Russian establishment rewriting soviet history as it wishes and IS doing their best to physically destroy large swathes of important world history in the middle east, we now have a man in charge of the US who wishes to change the records of what he said on a week by week basis?

Hell, handcart?

I could keep on dwelling on the events of a few years ago, or I could pick any number of new stories from the last twelve months, to illustrate the worryingly insular culture that we are rapidly sliding into, one where nobody really cares at all about what is actually happening to the world as long as their own little bubble doesn’t get popped.

We are ok with people drowning just out of sight of the beaches we flock to on holidays in a bold flight from persecution and the desperate search for a life with any kind of freedoms, just as long as they don’t wash up onto the sand we are sunbathing on. We are equally blind to the reasons that knife crime in the UK and gun crime in the US are on the rise amongst a youth who feel marginalised by the systems and the societies who should be teaching them right from wrong and don’t know how to express themselves in any better way, just as long as it isn’t our sibling or child who bleeds to death in the gutter.

I refuse to be without hope though, because I have to believe that there are more reasonable people who are not full of hatred than those who are.

I also firmly believe that maybe a good lunch is the way to save the world. I believe that eating is the one social thing that we can all share and relate to, no matter where in the world we come from, regardless of culture, skin tone, gender or religious sensibilities, because sitting down for a meal together is one of the few moments when we are all equal.

So this year I am going to make an effort to do just that with as many people as possible, whether they are old friends or those that I have not yet met.

Happy new year to you all, let’s hope that despite all of the negative news and the political idiocy that this year has already been saddles with, 2019 manages to be a bright and wonderful one!

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