Paris is burning on weekends!
London is in such disarray as to be literally paralyzed.
Washington is fixated on and paralyzed by the profound complexities of broken laws, trashed traditions and institutions, and unilateral withdrawal from the world of the current administration.
Moscow, the intrepid mischief-maker, is stirring the pot in Syria, Saudi-Arabia, North Korea, Crimea/Ukraine, and potentially in other currently less visible spots.
Bejing watches inscrutably, patiently, and from a perch of financial superiority, industrial prowess, military expansion, and ubiquitous cyber-penetration.
Iran and North Korea are likely pursuing enhanced nuclear capabilities, in spite of rhetoric and an agreement to the contrary.
Corporations like Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Huawei are under scrutiny for violating privacy rights of their “clients.”
Observers like Richard Haaas, Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations in the U.S., writes and speaks about the world being in more disarray than he predicted in a book written within the last year.
Children around the world, inspired by a fifteen-year-old Swedish girl who has been protesting the dangers of global warming and climate change every Friday for months, are taking to the streets to give voice to the slogan, “There is NO PLANET B”
Seventeen of the 18 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2001. The five warmest years in the global record have all come in the 2010’s. The 10 warmest years on record have all come since 1998. The 20 warmest years on record have all come since 1995.
The Economist magazine predicts that 2019 will witness and experience a serious conflict between populism and globalism.
Russia scales up its conflict with Ukraine, while NATO allies of Ukraine sit on their hands, their cell phones and their laptops, pondering if and how to discharge their responsibility under Article #5, to defend a NATO member under attack.
Mohammed bin Salman clearly instigates the brutal murder of a disaffected Saudi journalist while Canada and the U.S. ponder their response to the murder, through blocking or continuing the sale of military equipment…demonstrating a glaring paralysis over the question of human rights versus profit and jobs.
According to the United Nations, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide reached 65,600,000 at the end of 2016, the highest level since World War II, with a 40% increase since 2011. That number rose to 68.5 million in 2017, due to global wars, violence and persecution.
626,483,739 people live in extreme poverty, 8% of the world’s population. In 18 countries, extreme poverty is on the rise; by 2030, 16 countries will have erased extreme poverty; in 42 countries, extreme poverty is declining, but not fast enough to wipe it out by 2030.
Over 75% of the world’s 781 million illiterate adults are in South Asia, West Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa and women represent almost two-thirds of all illiterate adults globally.
In 2016, the UN estimates reveal that 142 million youth between 15 and 17 are not in school. This age group is four times more likely not to be in school than children between 6 and 11. 15 million girls of primary school age will never get the chance to learn to read of write in primary school, compared to about 10 million boys. Over half, some 9 million, live in sub-Saharan Africa.
These data points are not listed in order to provide a layer of sponge rubber distance from their significance. In fact, in a moment in time when all of these, and much more, are readily available to every human living on the planet, there is considerable cause for the road rage, the impolite and aggressive attitudes that we all encounter whenever we are “in public”…for the incidents of both revenge and withdrawal from the vortex of social and political conditions. We are definitely living in a time when leadership is under fire; responsible citizenship is begging for more than the youthful leadership poking their heads out of the soil of the earth’s cultural and political garden; and in the midst of all of this turmoil, the United States has relinquished its leadership on the world stage.
These ‘dots’ on the cultural intellectual and informational map are also linked with an apparent rise of insular populism, racism, bigotry and selfish narcissism, just yesterday, some 160 countries signed a non-binding agreement on the treatment of migrants around the world.
Called the United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and regular Migration, the agreement sets out 23 objectives for improving international co-operation on all forms of migration from refuges to skilled workers. Yesterday, December 10 was International Human Rights Day, and yet, tragically, the United States government opposed the pact, warning it could compromise national sovereignty when it comes to immigration. Ten other countries, mostly in formerly Communist Eastern Europe have pulled out. Six more, among them Israel and Bulgaria are debating whether to quit.
What kind of list of challenges would be needed to wake up the gestalt of world leadership as a matter of national security, international stability, global health and wellness, and the preservation of that old cliché, the reservoir of optimism and hope, on which the world, and each individual, still have to rely?
If such a list of threats/opportunities is not enough to sound the global planetary alarm, the wake-up call, the siren-song of fate and the most heroic challenge in history as well as mythology, then what will be?