As I write this the clock has ticked us into a new year. Fires are burning on one side of the planet, intense and unseasonal cold has struck another causing people to freeze to death in their ‘hot’ country and, in Indonesia, Jakarta is drowning in the worst floods for a decade.
A new decade has begun, one that’s supposed to have us seeing clearly – a 2020 vision – but our line of sight is blurred by the power hungry, the oligarchs, the autocrats and the dictators.
The voices of those suffering the consequences of inaction, ego and oppression need to be heard. Not the trolling tones of those who bicker, sneer and denigrate others both on and offline but the voices of the burnt, the drowned, the frozen, the oppressed and the hungry — and if they are unable to make their own voices heard then we have a duty to speak up for them, challenge those who have the power effect change and vote out those who feast on fattened calves leaving millions to starve.
Speaking up can change things so this year I’ll be adding my small voice, sharing with you the letters I write to people in leadership positions. People who have the power to create change and improve people’s circumstances – if they so choose. I do this in the hope you’ll add your voice – write, question, ask, demand – and speak up. Many small voices together make a loud noise and the more voices we can muster, the greater the chance of change.
Last month, Stephen Pinker wrote this in the UK’s Financial Times: “We are a cognitive species with the wherewithal to solve problems and the linguistic means to pool solutions…Progress is threatened not just by complacency but by tribalism, authoritarianism and science denial. Populists such as Donald Trump embody these threats”.
We need to make progress. Progress against poverty, progress in preserving our environment, progress towards equality and progress towards peace. Pinker also described humans as ‘intermittently empathetic’ but nonetheless a co-operative species. Working together, co-operating, calling out those motivated only by their own gain or extreme beliefs, we can change things for the better. Progress may be slow but, as the saying goes, a journey begins with a single step. So walk with me on this journey of words and together we can make a difference.