10 Good Happenings in 2012: A Retrospective for Hope in 2013

Posted: January 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

I look backwards, because I want to look forwards

I look backwards, because I desire to look forwards

1. Palestine was finally recognised, officially, as an independent state by the United Nations. Long overdue of course, but perhaps here is hope. Because this recognition is really the recognition of a people’s sovereignty, and the rights and freedoms that that signifies. But this recognition has yet to translate into meaningful action, so now, in 2013, we should renew our commitment to the rights and freedoms of the Palestinians, and all oppressed peoples.
2. The austerity agenda. Many remain sceptical, to say the least, about the need for the severe austerity measures, certainly in terms of how they’re being implemented and who they’re targeting. The UK government’s mantra of ‘We’re all in this together’ is obviously a damned lie, and that’s the all-important clue which reveals the Machiavellian interests at the heart of this agenda. I think the whole austerity narrative is a contrivance which the government is using, on behalf of the plutocratic elite they truly represent, to restructure society ideologically and really: it’s about facilitating greater top-down control and pooling yet more power in the hands of a domineering few. But, if their ultimate end is to be achieved, they must win the battle for minds – and they’re not winning. Despite a largely soporous and cahooting mainstream media, Net based campaigning organizations like UK Uncut, and Net based sources of analysis and opinion are steering more and more minds towards the truth. I feel that something’s going to give – is it revolution in the air?
3. The success of Net based campaigning organizations. Net based campaigning organizations such as Avaaz, 38 Degrees and Change.org were instrumental in some real successes for people power in 2012: the recognition of Palestine as the world’s 194th state; pressurising the Pakistani government to introduce a stipend programme for 3 million children to ensure that boys and girls receive a proper education; persuading the UK government to backtrack on plans to sell-off public forestry into private hands; helping to stymie legislation that would severely circumscribe Internet freedoms and transform the Net from a tool for personal emancipation and democratic engagement into one which primarily serves a corporate capitalist agenda; the list goes on… Naturally, many politicians are none too happy about these new platforms for exercising a real democratic voice: a fantastic reason to get involved if ever there was one! For too long we’ve been fobbed off with the fable that our governmental systems are democratic – but when election time shambles round the choice is overwhelmingly a choice between rhetorics rather than anything substantial. It’s a clever ruse, this so-called representative democracy; in truth it’s a cunning system that ensures the continued hegemony of plutocratic top-down control, and the last thing that feral elite wants is the proliferation of real democracy. So perhaps the most important service these campaigning organizations provide is their power to facilitate reflection on and participation with things that really matter – and in this foster the real spirit of democracy. Which, needless to say, bodes well – so long as the Internet remains free from repressive political interference.
4. The Hillsborough disaster. At last! The official recognition that families, friends and campaigners fought so long and hard for: behind an obfuscation of lies and clandestine collusion, 96 gross miscarriages of justice ensued. Through 2012 and in recent years there has been a steady stream of exposés revealing the corruption that exists amongst those very people and in those very places that many might not have believed possible. Comforting as it may be for many to believe that those who attain positions of seniority in our institutions somehow stand atop metaphoric moral pedestals, society is not served if the truth is repressed. So in one sense the various unpalatable revelations of recent times might be made to work for the good, if they serve as a reality check and a call to action. There is, in my opinion, quite a discrepancy between how our institutions work in theory, and how they work in practice, and the morally and spiritually wayward all too easily find opportunities to abuse their positions of authority. I want the workings of our institutions made much more transparent, and more efficacious procedures for being held to account by the citizenry. For the Hillsborough victims, the fight for justice is not yet over: let’s hope and pray that the new inquest in 2013 points fingers of blame in the right directions.
5. Iceland. Noteworthy events have been taking place in Iceland in recent times. In the aftermath of the country’s financial crisis in 2008, unorthodox measures were adopted. Members of the banking elite were held to account and jailed, and the ordinary Icelander – not of course responsible for the crisis – was insulated: education, health, social security and policing all being shielded from spending cuts. The focus was on increasing consumption. Now, the Icelandic economy is growing at a pace whilst the eurozone’s is stagnant or shrinking. And on October 20, 2012 the country provided the world with a lesson in democracy when a referendum was held on a bill formulated by its Constitutional Council (its members being elected by the people); voters approved amendments that would mean the country’s constitution would be redefined by the people. If the bill is passed by the Icelandic parliament in 2013, some of the constitutional changes would mean: the votes of the electorate would have equal weighting; a specific proportion of the electorate could call for a national referendum on a specific matter. The bill should be ratified by the country’s parliament in 2013 (there’ll be uproar if it isn’t). All this may well be news to you, because the mainstream media in this country and elsewhere doesn’t exactly spotlight matters pertaining to genuine democratic reform. Real democracy is achievable, especially in the age of the Internet, and Iceland is paving the way.
6. George Galloway, expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 for calling Tony Blair a liar, was elected to parliament as Respect MP for Bradford West. This is the situation we’ve arrived at – any politician belonging to one of three mainstream parties is liable to be expelled if he/she tells it as it is. I’ve long admired George Galloway, and believe that he is one of the few politicians who speaks the truth: says what he means, means what he says. Although I’m a member of the Green Party, I recognise that Galloway’s Respect party is genuinely socialist and progressive – ‘Respect’ is an acronym and stands for Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environmentalism, Community and Trade unionism. Despite the differences in rhetoric, all three mainstream political parties in England – Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour – advocate the neoliberalist corporate-capitalist agenda. And the continued destruction of society and the environment is assured by this blinkered and benighted agenda. Humanity cannot be understood, celebrated and supported, when looked at through the distorting lens of capital accumulation and the attempted commodification of all that there is. I really hope that in 2013 and beyond more and more people recognise that what is urgently required right now is a renewal of the democratic socialist spirit, translated into 21st century forms of democratic socialism. I think it’s going to happen!
7. My home town of Bristol chose independents for its positions of City Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner; George Ferguson, now City Mayor, then chose a Green Party councillor, Gus Hoyt, to be in charge of environment and communities in his three member cabinet. Although I, along with the Green Party (I’m a member), think city mayors are in general not to be recommended, the fact that Bristol and other places in the UK chose independents demonstrates I think that people are eager to have new and more faces on the political stage, faces not circumscribed by the three mainstream parties. This is good news because the problem as I see it is that the three main parties are all tethered to neoliberalism, which is the real problem – the straitjacket we need to wriggle free from. I wish George well for 2013, and if Gus Hoyt can deliver in his position, it will be great for raising the profile and standing of the Green Party.
8. I finally switched my energy supplier from one of the UK’s Big Six (corrupt cartel!), to a greener supplier (Ecotricity; other greener energy suppliers are available), and I switched my bank from Barclays to The Co-operative (much more ethical).Oh, and I’m recycling a lot more. We can all do our bit, and it all adds up to real change: ‘Be the change you want to see’, Gandhi said. I aim to use ethical trading outlets much more in 2013.
9. The world’s still spinning, despite the supposed doomsday Mayan predictions for 2012; I’m still here, and if you’re reading this you’re still here. Well, that’s a good start. 2013: bring it on!
10. ‘Hmmm. Number ten, what shall it be?’ I pondered. Nothing immediately came to mind; but then, a sudden shaft of illumination: the unquantifiable good happenings that occurred every day in 2012. Good happenings are manifested every day and every moment, by people who will probably never hit the news headlines. And it’s the good happenings that people manifest in everyday life, that really makes the difference. But good happenings don’t just happen arbitrarily. It’s the people who hold a light to their souls through mindfulness, and see the sufferings and confusions in the world abiding there, these are the people who can make the difference. Only when we are truly present to ourselves, are we truly present in the world as the miraculous creations that we are. And the greatest gift we can offer to the world and ourselves, is all that we are.

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