Monday 27 January 2020

After ten difficult years there are reasons for hope and optimism

Our view - editorial opinion

What a difference a decade can make. The last 10 years have seen the global landscape utterly transformed in a manner that seemed scarcely imaginable as 2010 dawned.

Cast your mind back 10 years and the world was still in the grasp of a global financial catastrophe that threatened the very existence of the some of the planet's most powerful economies.

Ireland was one of the countries worst hit by the financial crisis but around the world 10s of millions of people were pushed into penury by the ravages of the economic collapse.

Despite that, as we woke on New Year's Day 2010 the world looked a very different and more progressive place.

In the United States the Obama administration was enjoying its heyday; in the UK the Labour Government had managed to steer the country out of recession and across the world many other countries began to emerge from the worst of the crisis.

In the first days of the decade, HIV was removed from a global list of diseases of 'public health significance'; the world rallied to support the people of Haiti after a devastating earthquake and there were numerous notable successes in the war against Al Qaeda and its affiliates. While things were far from perfect there was reason for optimism.

How quickly things began to change.

Things started to take a turn for the worse in late 2010 with the beginnings of the Arab Spring. Initially, the wave of pro-democracy protests that swept across the Middle East were greeted with jubilation worldwide.

However, as the months rolled on it became clear that the Arab Spring would have some unforeseen and disastrous side affects.

Protests in Syria soon descended into a vicious civil war that rumbles on today having already cost some 400,000 lives. That horrendous war sparked a refugee crisis on a scale not seen since World War Two and allowed the genesis of Al Qaeda's depraved successors in ISIS.

The economic after effects of recession and a rise in racist and right wing dogma saw western politics turned on its head in the mid 2010s. Right wing administrations popped up across the globe with the swing from Liberalism reaching its nadir with the Brexit voter and the election of Trump in 2016.

Meanwhile, Russia and China continued their onward march slowly but steadily copper-fastening their economic and political influence on the world stage.

That much of this happened thanks to the Internet - supposedly the great tool of democracy - is perhaps the greatest irony of the last 10 years.

For all that, there is reason to be hopeful. The movement spearheaded by Greta Thunberg has galvanised attention on climate change; extreme poverty has fallen worldwide and new democracy crusades have sprung up from Hong Kong to Chile, Sudan and beyond. In Ireland alone we have seen a wave of liberalism overturn bans on abortion and same sex marriage.

They say things are darkest before the dawn. Maybe that's the best reason for optimism as we enter the 2020s.

Enniscorthy Guardian