Last Word By Sankhyayan Datta
Last Word By Sankhyayan Datta
IT WAS A GREY, cold and slightly windy morning. Not unusual in any season in Poland. I was eating breakfast with two of my friends-turned-acquaintances at a restaurant in Poznań’s medieval market square. We were discussing the, at the time, ongoing “Not-My-President’s-Day” rallies worldwide against Donald Trump. Krys and Sławek seemed supportive of Trump who had taken office a few weeks back. I was visibly upset Hillary Clinton had lost. Not that I rooted for her anyway.
For as long as I can remember, I have mostly supported “lesser of two disappointing options” – I was told that “lesser of two evils” is, for the most part, a “misnomer.”
So, while sipping a tepid cup of Earl Grey tea and tucking into bacon that was at the border of crispy and soggy, I told my friends that I feared worldwide civil unrest. No, not because of Trump and definitely not because of any one person. But because of the direction in which things – society, economic disparity, climate, among others, in no particular order – appeared to be heading for years. They still are.
Explaining further, I used the analogy between then – early 2017 – and the French Revolution that sought to completely change the relationship between the rulers and those they governed and to redefine the nature of political power. The only difference: in 2017, the definitions for “the rulers” and “the governed” metamorphosed into something infinitely more complex depending upon the situation.
Simplistically put, whereas “the rulers”, not connected, included “waffling” David Cameron, “radical” religious clerics, “corrupt” businesspeople, oppressors of women, xenophobes and humankind, under the umbrella of “the governed” poverty-stricken children, LGBT+ supporters, faceless commoners, pro-feminist people, immigrant rights’ defenders and “Mother Nature” sought shelter.
Fast forward a few months shy of four years. Now it’s December 2020. Had you told me a year ago that a coronavirus would kill over 1.5 million people worldwide and would ravage many more million lives and families, I would have said “you’re barking mad.” Yet here we are.
Besides lives being lost in biblical proportions this year, a lot has changed. Some of the changes have been terrible. Some others quite the opposite. Thousands of businesses have been shuttered for good – “lock, stock and barrel” like my friend from the university said as their family was forced to put on sale pubs around Nottingham. An unknown number of people has lost their livelihoods, been forced to battle depression alone, been driven to suicide, or has been denied critical medical care given that their ailment wasn’t Covid-19-related. To those numbers, add people affected due to BLM marches and pro-abortion demonstrations and other protests.
On the other hand, however, although not comparable, the air has gotten clearer in many parts across the world, flora and fauna have purportedly flourished, an undefined number of people has been able to discover their creative calling or been able to spend more time with their families albeit oftentimes online.
As you might have realized even before turning to the last page of the last issue for 2020 of this magazine, it’s increasingly impossible to predict the future with a high degree of certainty. One thing we can be sure of though. If we don’t learn from our past and as a result take corrective actions in the present, our future’s predictability will take a further far more sinister hit.
I’m not being an alarmist. I’m only urging you to spare a moment and think. Think beyond your own realm. Think about those that are different than you. It has to be a collective effort and not “what’s in it for me?.” It has to be a marathon, not a sprint. For it to be an absolute win-win, we have to spare a thought for the environment. We have to choose a certain path. Only the future will tell whether we were right or wrong…
And before I head to the kitchen to find my favorite mulled wine recipe, I wish you a contemplative Christmas and 2021 better than you hope for. Whatever you get up to over the festive period, surely don’t turn yourself, even unwittingly, into a superspreader. Cheers!
Note: The food in the Poznań restaurant was served piping hot. I just enjoy my meals and drinks relatively cold.