Sunday, 21 December 2008

My relationship with 2008: A spiel from the heart

And so it is that the year 2008AD was coming to an end, with just a few days and several traditional celebratory days remaining. That space in space around the sun beckons again which some cultures chose as their time for new beginnings and reflections. So, in that spirit, I shall now do what all good bloggers do, and blog.

How does one sum up a year? Well, for myself it has been a year of self-discovery, and discovering just some of what the world around has to offer. I have had no formal education whatsoever, but learnt so much. I've worked full time in an office. I've travelled alone, and travelled with strangers who quickly become new friends (significantly bulking out my friends list on Facebook). I've run for Parliament, learning a lot from New Zealand masters of Green politics.

One thing my cousin taught me while I was in Canada - one of those important things that you never forget, rather, dwell on at length - was the way the indigenous people of Canada measure individual success. For me it sums up two things really well. It reminds me that there are so many different ways of viewing the world out there already, let alone new philosophies to be thought up. It also, I feel, sums up well the way I think our culture needs to re-jig our priorities. My cousin told me that indigenous people in Canada use one's relationships as a measure of "success" - compared with our measure of money, stuff, and career success. Relationships with those around you, and also the world around are of huge importance to everyone's wellbeing. I have learnt a lot about relationships this year, of all types.

In terms of international affairs 2008 has been a particularly dramatic year. I remember thinking in 2004 that it was, for New Zealand at least, the year that I will see as the start of major weather events increasing in their ferocity. It was the year that we had all that flooding in February, and sure enough, plenty of extreme weather keeps coming. Two thousand and eight will certainly be remembered as crunch time. The sky-rocketing price of oil can not be ignored as a sign of intense pressures on our resources as we really start to live beyond our means. This being a failure of free-market capitalism, helping trigger another failure. Individuals running a system do in fact act with short term self interests as their primary concern, rather than for the greater good, even if the greater good will, eventually, advance their self-interests much further. Cue global financial crisis.

But, with the election of Barack Obama, there are signs of hope. No more Bush has got to be good for the world - he's done pretty well at screwing up as much as humanely possible. Now, I don't see Obama as a saviour, but I don't think anyone could possibly have been elected in that country and been able to make the changes we so desparately need. Not at the moment anyway. I think in Obama we got about the best we could possibly have hoped for. For me, the fact that he's black doesn't really matter so much (having grown up in an almost colour-blind environment). It's the fact that he's so multi-racial, and has had so many different experiences in his life. This seems to instruct his politics. He realises that if you want to move forward, you have to bring everyone forward, no matter what viewpoint or religion or philosophy they subscribe to. That is vitally important if we are ever to make the changes that really need to be made. Obama is ultimately going to be a failure - he wont enact a policy in the Middle East that is fair, he wont reform the US economy to a "New Green Deal" of the type that we really need, and he most certainly wont please everyone. But I do think that he will make significant progress on all fronts, and that's what we need not just in 2009, but long beyond that.

And so to my beloved New Zealand. What are we up to? National and ACT running the country? (With some Maori Party flavour in there.) So far all that that has meant is some very rapid backwards-running. I know I'll have to continue to invest in my future by investing my time with the Green Party. If right wing politics is the politics of fear, than Green politics is the politics of inspiration and vision, and that is what (with the help of Mr Obama) we need to use to continue to fight the good (non-violent) fight.

As for me, 2009 will be a year of more learning and growth (jeeze, is that all us young folk do?). I will be starting at university, most likely studying Environmental Studies and Economics (so watch out, I'll be able to spa it with the Business Round Table and people with similarily decrepit views and shatter their very reason for being). I'll also be moving out of the nest (yay!).

So to everyone who's read this - thanks! For those of you who flicked through to this final paragraph - go back and read it all! For my supporters on Facebook - thanks for continuing to grow in numbers. My ego needs stroking every now and again. For everyone - over the next couple of weeks, make sure you reflect, philosophise, and most importantly, work on your relationships. With friends, family, loved ones, yourself, your enemies, your garden, your cat and anything/anyone else you see fit. And make sure you do something a little crazy. Two thousand and nine is going to be a long year.