If you’re like me, you watch the nightly news with a sense of dread. Even though I’m a journalist myself, I am dismayed by the increasing tendency of most news agencies to abandon any sense of objectivity and paint every situation in the worst possible light. According to the major news agencies on both sides of the Atlantic, Britain is about to fall off an economic cliff after failing to reach a reasonable deal with the EU, while in America is in constitutional crisis.
While I acknowledge that we are at the end of something – global capitalism as we knew it, a European superstate, politics as usual in the US – and in the midst of a major shift, in our climate, our economics and our politics, I remain hopeful for a number of reasons, mostly because of the ingenuity of the human spirit to adapt and evolve.
Here are just a few reasons why we should all celebrate a happy 2019:
1. The polarity affecting America may start to shift. For those of you who despair of the giant divide between Republicans and Democrats, now that the Democrats are taking over the House of Representatives, if anything is going to be passed in Congress, these two warring sides will have to find common ground, which could have a knock-on effect among the population.
2. Business and other governments are starting to step up to the plate on political and social issues. For instance, leading members of the technology business have offered strong and vocal support for reformed and open immigration policies. As Mohamad Ali, CEO of Carbonite put it: “I am optimistic about the US’s future because more American business leaders are recognizing that they can no longer sit on the sidelines and must now engage the policies that will shape our country.” In terms of climate change, despite America’s withdrawal from the climate accord, numerous major oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell pledged to halve its carbon footprint by 2050. BP, Chevron and Exxon are also looking at renewables. A number have raised a $1 billion fun to invest in tech to reduce carbon emissions. In government, British Columbia has led North America with its CleanBC plan. By 2032, every new construction with have to be “net zero energy ready,’ and eight years later, every vehicle sold will have to be emission-free.
3. The ‘cliff edge’ facing Britain Brexit appears to be more of a medium- sized hill. Although the BBC and other news agencies keep harping on about how the motorways of Britain will have giant pile-ups of trucks and lorries attempting to get through new customs regulations, an
executivesfor the Port of Dover port recently wrote an article for the Telegraph describing that was blatantly not true, and that plans had been made for the Port to run essentially as normal. Parliamentary Ministers are now finally seriously discussing the advantages of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and of using World Trade Organization trading rules –particularly its power to get the EU back to the negotiating table. Most of Europe is in financial trouble. They need Britain and its money - badly. Britain had a much greater challenge when they faced off a German army juggernaut armed only with sticks, broken bottles and grit in the early stages of WW II.
4. Cleantech is attracting ever more investment. According to DivestInvest campaign, some 985 institutional investors handling some $6.24 trillion have moved away from fossil fuels and are diverting their money to green fuel sources, which are now seen as mainstream.
5. Global poverty is falling. For the first time ever, according to American think tank, Brookings, the number of world’s population classed as middle-class has reached parity with the number of the world’s poor.
6. Global terrorism is also falling – sharply. The number of deaths from terrorism fell by more than a quarter in the last two years, and were falling before that.
7. The newest generation of grown-ups - now making up one-third of the US population - are an incredible force for change. Contrary to the ‘snowflake’ view of millennials, they’re far more politically engaged than their older counterparts. More than a quarter (28 percent) of millennials have attended a live event supporting a particular cause in the last year – compared to 15 percent of those from older generations – and 62 percent attend more cause-related events now than they did ten years ago.
In fact, they are completely redesigning what it means to be an activist. Instead of noisy demonstrations, they are engaging in bottom-up change, by embedding change-making into their daily lifestyles.
The biggest difference of all, according to the Impact Report, which examined cause engagement during 2016, is that millennials “no longer primarily look to traditional institutions to effect societal change.” Change isn’t going to come from the outside, in their view; they, as Gandhi so famously put it, need to be the change.
“For millennials, taking consistent, positive actions, every day or week, is a lifestyle and a fundamental part of their identity,” says Jean Case, who is CEO of the Case Foundation. “Members of this generation no longer
see themselves as ‘activists’ like their parents, but rather as everyday changemakers.”
And they’re beginning to vote with their wallets and their work choices. Some 51 percent said they would more likely buy from a conscious CEO, and 44 percent said that they’d be more loyal to a company where the CEO was willing to speak out about important activist issues. They’re taking to social media to influence business and even their own jobs.
So Happy New Year! And here’s to some positive intentions in your own life.