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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Shaken and stirred

December 29, 2009

Malaysia Star - Malaysia
Sunday December 28, 2008
The year’s troubles have taught us to take note of what really matters, to appreciate the beauty of the world, and to be grateful for the simple joys of food, family and friends.
IN a few more days, we will usher in the new year and bid goodbye to 2008, a year which will definitely be remembered for its troubles and its strengths.
The Chinese started the year bracing for the country’s worst snow storms in five decades.
The unusually severe snow storms led to huge economic losses and widespread environmental destruction.
Many people were stranded and could not return home for the lunar Chinese New Year celebrations.
And then in March, China faced a torrent of criticism from the West for the manner in which it dealt with the uprising in Tibet.
The following month saw the Chinese government and the state media reproached for allegedly biased foreign media coverage of the riots in Tibet. Even overseas Chinese rallied against media bias in the coverage of the Tibet issue.
Chinese citizens stoked by passionate nationalism responded to counter the accusations. Their stirred responses and angry expressions were spread through the then growing numbers of Internet-based anti-Western campaigns.
The Xinhua news agency tried to cool tempers by appealing for nationalist energies to remain rational and focused on building the nation.
Then came the powerful 8.0-magnitude earthquake which rocked the area around Wenchuan in Sichuan Province, dealing a devastating blow to thousands of families.
The international community expressed sympathy to China. Aid, including support and funds, poured into the worst-hit area. How­ever, strong aftershocks continued to rock the area, hampering rescue efforts.
Many, especially those who lost their children, experienced the darkest days of their lives.
I had earlier thought that the Beijing Olym­pics would be the main highlight of the year. But it was not. The unspeakable misery of the Wenchuan quake has reminded us to respect the sacredness of life. It has taught us to take note of what really matters, to appreciate the beauty of the world, and to be grateful for the simple joys of food, family and friends.
The year 2008 taught many about the difference between needs and wants and about connections between the economy and the environment, as governments announced various policy prescriptions to survive the current global financial crisis.
Personally, I would say that 2008 has not been such a bad year but it’s all a matter of perspective.
For those who have been blessed with joy and abundance this year, let’s hope that 2009 will be even better. And for those who have been beset by financial losses and tragedy, let’s pray that the new year will bring showers of blessing.
Happy New Year to all The Star readers!
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