'Hope' sculpture in New York City was created by American artist Robert Indiana in 2009
It's a pessimistic title, but after a roller-coaster 2016, is there anything to look forward to in 2017?
I consider myself a positive person and I have always been able to bounce back up after crises and difficult periods in my life. Yet what happened here and around the world last year has changed my outlook completely. I am starting to wonder if fascism is making a comeback (or perhaps it has always been around)? Is WWIII on the horizon? Is Trump going to start a nuclear war with China? Are the terrorists going to attack London next? Watching and reading the news depress me further, and so at times, I would rather switch off from it completely.
The simple 4-letter word 'hope' is a powerful word that encourages humanity to strive forward since the dawn of time. Even before the birth of the modern language, early humans must have experienced the 'hopeful' state in order to want to survive in a brutal world. Without hope, one is stuck in a dark, grim and depressed world full of despair. Yet the definition of this word differs with everyone; it is abstract, broad and groundless. And many people end up being wounded by their own expectations, dreams or unrealistic ideals. According to author Shannon McKenna, "Hope and fear are two sides of the same coin". So, if we are constantly struggling between fears and hopes, then I guess finding a balance between the two or being aware of them would create a healthier state of mind.
And in difficult times, many people would also turn to astrology and religions for answers. Recently I read about the Age of Aquarius for the first time, and it kinda triggered my curiosity. According to astrologers, it is an astrological age, which occurs due to The Precession of Equinoxes i.e. the equinoxes moving westward along the ecliptic relative to the fixed stars and opposite to the motion of the Sun along the ecliptic (don't worry if you have no clue what this means, it really means the retrograde motion of the earth). The cycle lasts around 25,800 years, and since there are 12 Zodiac constellations, the equinox moves in front of a new Zodiac constellation every 2,150 years. Some astrologers believe that we have officially entered the Age of Aquarius around 2011/12 (though this is debatable and not universally acknowledged). The actual date is not so important, because an inevitable shift in politics and society have occurred around the world last year.
Aquarius is associated with new inventions, information, technology, communication, individualism and free thinking. And judging from the rise of social media, internet and startups, it seems that we are indeed in the Age of Aquarius. I am not an astrologer, but I can see that 2016 marked a turning point in history, and we are entering a more turbulent and unpredictable time. Clearly, the models of capitalism and globalisation are collapsing, and we are going through a transitional period trying to find a new systems to replace the old models. This, undoubtedly, will take some time, but changes are starting to take place already, thanks to the younger and more forward-thinking entrepreneurial generation. At the same time, modern politicians and political parties are also losing their power and influence on the masses. As we can see from the US elections and EU referendum results, the politicians in power (then) ceased to appeal and their rhetorics failed to convince the voters. The truth is that I don't think Trump nor leaving the EU could solve the problems we are facing in the Western world today. I also have a feeling that Trump will not be in power for long because he is too hated by many Americans including members of his own party, so let's wait and watch the story unfolds...
Despite my occasional negative thoughts about the future of our world, I still hold a glimpse of hope for humanity. Due to the unsettling times, we are seeing more activists and youngsters stepping out and trying to make some positive changes to the world. Many of us – ordinary citizens – are all becoming more vocal and 'political' because we feel that we can no longer stand aside and watch everything collapses around us. Our newfound social responsibility is changing the collective consciousness, which will have a ripple effect on the society.
This is the time for us to unite, and support each other more than ever. It may sound like a cliche, but love, compassion, tolerance are the human qualities that we need to cherish and spread. 2017 may be another bumpy year, but we have to stay positive and use our intrinsic human qualities to guide us through the difficult times ahead of us.