As the lights fade on 2021, where to from here?

Twenty-one years into the 21st century we might well ask ourselves, ‘What have we achieved’ and ‘Where to from here?’

If we are honest, those years have yielded a disappointingly short list of achievements. What of global significance or lasting importance has been invented since the year 2000? I cannot think of one.

Sure, we have greatly improved the variety and portability of our hand-held electronic devices. Certainly social media have become of greater interest and are a more powerful influence on the lives all around the world.

Ten-minute ‘joy rides’ into inner-space are becoming so commonplace as to attract little attention.

Read: A well-lived life and a well-managed exit

We continue, at an ever-increasing pace, to pollute the atmosphere, oceans and surface with our own toxic emanations and ever-increasing volume of refuse.

Mindless destruction of the world’s vegetation and animal life continues and escalates. We even treat water as though we were unaware that all we have on the world today is all we will ever have.

More than 90 years ago, we ‘invented’ the League of Nations to solve the problems of the world without having to resort to wars. Since then, there has rarely been a year in which people were not killing each other, and in large numbers.

After World War II, the United Nations World Health Organization was formed to control, contain and protect humanity from pandemics and epidemics. Enough said?

Ageing populations are deemed an ever-increasing reality worldwide. In Australia today, one person in every seven is over the age of 70 and every year that proportion narrows.

Read: Complacency has no part in this pandemic

Multiple time-consuming and costly inquiries into the aged care sector have produced voluminous reports but little progress. People are living longer but the health and care of an ageing population is a problem that we, in Australia, are far from addressing properly, let alone rectifying.

In this wonderful country, we are experiencing a housing crisis!

Thousands of people cannot find affordable accommodation yet, within 500 metres of where I sit writing this, there are seven three and four-bedroom homes on large blocks occupied by just one, or two at the most, retirees over the age of 80.

Under-utilisation of finite resources? You bet it is!

Surely, it is time for us all to realise that ‘bugger you Jack, I’m all right’ simply does not work – not locally, not nationally, not internationally.

The same ocean that is, inexorably, inundating the atoll of Kiribati also washes the eastern coast of Australia !

Read: Living life, not talking death

We spend billions of dollars on soon-to-be-outdated armaments with which to play ‘chicken’ with neighbouring nations. We carry on, like primary school kids in the toilet block, playing ‘mine-is-bigger-than-yours’ – even when the planet is confronted by a truly global threat.

Perhaps, starting right now, we could begin to act as though we have finally realised this is one world and that we should all start doing a better job of looking after our neighbours and ourselves.

Starvation feels the same whatever the colour of our skin and lethal viruses care nothing for national boundaries or religion.

We have 79 years before the year 2100 dawns, let’s not waste them.

What do you think of our ‘progress’ so far this century? Are we headed in the right direction or still stalling, thinking all problems are someone else’s problem? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Written by Peter Leith

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