As November winds down, a chill in the air ushers in thoughts of the year's end. Day by day, as I go about my day, I watch the Christmas market assemble. Though, I cannot quite get myself in the holiday mood. My hands are freezing, but this time, I doubt hot cocoa and fairy lights will warm me up and vaporise the worries that come with the paradox of approaching a festive season in a world in such chaos.
Yet the world's heartbeat skips not a beat. The Netherlands, usually known for its tulips and tranquillity, found itself at a political crossroads this week. The early general elections, a result of the fourth Rutte cabinet's collapse over contentious immigration policies, shook the nation's political landscape. The ascendance of Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) to the largest party in the House of Representatives signals a seismic shift, echoing historical political upsets.
But the Dutch story is but a note in the global symphony. Far from Europe's calm, the ongoing strife in Palestine resonates with a sorrowful tone. The conflict, as enduring as it is heartbreaking, continues to claim lives and futures. Hospitals, once havens of healing, have become targets in a war that shows no signs of abating. Amidst this, voices rise, a chorus of the unheard, clamouring for peace, justice, and recognition.
Parallelly, the Democratic Republic of Congo endures its own tragic melody. The country, rich in natural beauty and resources, faces a humanitarian crisis that seems lost in the world's news shuffle. The term 'genocide' does not begin to capture the despair and destruction witnessed there. Children, the most innocent of all, labour in hazardous conditions, victims of a cobalt rush that powers our modern conveniences yet leaves behind a legacy of suffering.
These are only very few of very many atrocities we can easily forget about, as we rush through our lives. So, if you can spare a few minutes, find a way or two to become active in helping. It could be spreading awareness, fundraising or dedicating your career to it. Baby steps.
In this tapestry of global events, the thread of humanity weaves a complex pattern. The Dutch elections remind us that societies are ever-evolving, their paths shaped by the choices of their people. The situations in Palestine and Congo are stark reminders of the world's inequalities and the urgent need for compassion and action.
And as the political climate seems to reduce the oxygen to the hopes and efforts of many of us, I can't help but wonder “Will we, soon, be seeking asylum in other countries?”. As of now, it seems like a silly prank my mind is playing. On second thought, political change, usually, comes gradually until one day you catch yourself roaming the supermarket aisles and going through election results calculating how many of these people, innocently shopping for Sunday brunch, voted for whom. I can’t help it. It sends shivers down my spine.
I wish for a world of constructive political discourse. A world, where it is not a personal attack to question each other. One where we thank each other for getting the chance to critically reevaluate our ideas and values constantly. One, where self-awareness and critical thinking are pillars of everything in our lives. Be it on the micro- or macro-level
Back to guiding you through some more happenings of this week: Globally, the United Nations emphasised the need for sustainable transport to combat climate change. This call to action underlines the urgency of rethinking our means of mobility in the face of an escalating environmental crisis.
In Uganda, a notable stride was made in gender-based violence prevention, highlighting the critical role men and boys play in shaping safer communities. This initiative underscores the importance of inclusive approaches in tackling societal issues.
Meanwhile, the situation in Gaza saw a glimmer of hope as the United Nations confirmed the delivery of increased aid amid a humanitarian pause, signalling a brief respite in a region long marred by conflict.
In a poignant narrative from Ukraine, the story of a village rebuilding in the Kherson region reflects the resilience and indomitable spirit of communities affected by war and strife.
Yet, as we stand on the cusp of the festive season, there's a glimmer of hope. The spirit of the times, often tested, remains unbroken. From the streets of Maastricht to the villages of Congo, life pulsates, resilient and enduring. As we reflect on this week's happenings, let's remember the power of our shared humanity and the strength we can find in listening and understanding.
In the words of a poet, "To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there." As the week closes, let's ponder these choices, for in them lies the path to a better tomorrow.
Stay curious. Stay critical.
PS: This is not to say, not to enjoy what we can, not to enjoy the little things, that make it better and energize us to have a positive impact. It is just to say, being human is complex. There is room for polar opposite emotions at once because each of us truly has their own little world inside of them. Go on the Ferris wheel, burst of laughter and fear when you’re up there and once you're back on steady ground, you can go back to caring about the world.