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What a strange new world

Joseph FX Zahra  -  07/09/2016 12:50

We are all bound to be disappointed with the way things are going in the world today. The landscape is strange and weird. Let us put things into context. The surprising result in favour of Brexit, the terrorist attacks in Nice and elsewhere, the failed coup in Turkey, and further afield, the deluding fall-out from the Arab Spring, the greed and dishonesty in the financial sector particularly by the iconic global banks and audit firms, the misdirected and disproportionate policies and action by the “new” regulators. The list goes on, and I am sure you are adding your own further examples of events that are shaping this strange new world.

Pessimism and anxiety are being manipulated by the media and by the once dubbed rogue politicians who have now gone mainstream. We are all cynical when it comes to politics, but mostly distrustful of politicians. The mask on politicians’ faces has fallen and we can all observe the mechanisation of political activity, and the extent of the social media spin. The demoralisation has penetrated through all social and economic sectors. We do not believe any longer that there are honest businessmen or honest politicians. The result is that we will only become isolationists and protectionists again. Insular in thinking and behaviour. This explains the rise of a new form (and a dangerous version) of nationalism. Read here Le Pen, Trump and Johnson.

In this strange world, however, there is hope. We cannot fail to trust the ingenuity and the fundamental goodness in people. The hope lies in the future of policy making, strategy and basic values guided by the pursuit of virtue. The future is in the making. The seeds are sowed for a politics of post-liberalism and the advent of a politics with a genuine human face. Follow the words of Pope Francis.

Globalisation is to be defended as a means of communitarian collaboration and an understanding of cultures. If we are seeing a drawbridge policy, with bridges being pulled up or down, let us go for drawn down bridges of communication and empathy. Inventiveness and innovation are not tools to perpetuate logo and branding consumerism, but to improve efficiency, and freeing time to employees for family life and relaxation. Entrepreneurship and risk taking are not only drivers of economic growth, but means to achieve an improved human integration and development. Human fragility and modesty are virtues that are commended and that need to be protected from falling into the trap of the materialism associated with the “new middle class” or nouveau riche.

We need to invest in rediscovering virtues when education and the media return to disseminating the value of honesty, integrity, transparency, the evils of waste and corruption. An investment that targets the elimination of now structured inequality. An investment that reshapes economic systems, with the revival of crafts and manufacturing, and the respect for nature and the environment.

The alternative to all this is what we watch today on TV and follow on our tablet or laptop - civil strife, violence, terrorism. This alternative creates fear, anguish and anxiety.

We decide which alternative to choose.