Time seems to fly at rocket speed. Twelve months have lapsed quickly that the year 2018 has almost come to an end, and another new year (2019) will be dawned in three days. Although, over a period of time, numerous prophesies, guesses or speculations have surfaced intermittently, yet not a single major prediction has achieved recognition. The unfortunate factor is that the human nature is such that man can easily become a captive to any astrological prediction or prophesy and get alarmed unnecessarily.
Not so long ago, in 1970, the most fearsome prognostication was about the Y2K syndrome, which should have taken effect on the 1st of January.
However, it was later proved to be false. Y2K, or the Millennium Bug, as it was called, was supposed to have interfered with the coding of computerised systems and created havoc throughout the world.
Consequently, it was projected to have a complete over run of the old working systems of computers where dates beyond 1999 could not have been recognised.
Accordingly, it was prophesied to have effects on aero planes, thereby falling those out of the skies on 1 January, 2000, and ships would have hit the sea beds, as well as all households would have been in complete darkness due to an electricity failure. But nothing took place and the Y2K bug could not live up to the dangers as predicted.
Having survived that catastrophe, yet another prophesy managed to astound the world community with the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar, six years ago, with the information that on 12 December, 2012, ‘the world would have come to an end, after the 124 year-long cycle’. It apparently tallied with numerous astronomical alignments and numerological formulae too, but the world still survived
The latest prophesy, in January 2038, when the world will apparently transform into a substantial mode where disruption throughout our culture, technology and science will take place. Brexit in Europe, and Donald Trump policies in the USA are said to affect the future. It is not an easy feat when it comes to what our planet will look like in the future.
On a different perspective, many world disasters have taken place throughout history in the absence of any prediction. The American ‘9/11’ catastrophe came about without any forecast whatsoever except a team of terrorists who planned, knew about it. Likewise, there are many other world disasters, for example floods, wildfires, eruption of volcanoes and collapsing of high-rise buildings. On 26 December, 2004, massive tidal waves caused a mammoth earthquake that struck off the Western coast of Northern Sumatra, and spread across the Eastern, Southern and large parts of the Western coasts of Sri Lanka, known as the tsunami.
Even at the time of inscribing this column, on 23 December, 2018, an earthquake was reported in Indonesia, which fortunately did not affect Sri Lanka, but northern parts of Sri Lanka have been affected with flooding and managed to maroon thousands of families. Such evidence show that predictions are made on a physical plane, nothing could prevent the wrath of nature.
1st of January
Whatever said and done, the first day in January happens to be a special beginning for a brand-new year. On this auspicious morning, old habits are cast aside and new convictions, new lifestyles and novel mindsets are put into motion. On a commercial perspective, the shopkeepers ensure to condition the mentality of consumers at the end of each year to discard old clothes and buy new ones. In this regard, the society has coined a unique phrase – ‘year-end sales’.
The world celebrates the dawning of the New Year in many forms, transforming it to be a special occasion to enjoy. Many prefer to celebrate and welcome the New Year with house parties, while the elite and the young attend ballroom dances at star hotels. During their jollification, and when the clock strikes at 12 midnight, each one is seen embracing their partners, or even unknown strangers in the dancing floor, in full excitement to wish everyone “happy new year”. One marvels how wonderful it would be if such momentary gestures could be extended throughout the year, it would certainly make this planet a magnificent and meaningful place.
New Year resolution is another conventionalism that goes hand in glove with the dawning of a new year, where one makes a serious determination to commit oneself to a ‘goal’. This could be, for instance, to quit smoking or to bring about a certain change in one’s lifestyle. It is interpreted as advantageous to accomplish individual goals and is regarded as a key to a new beginning in the New Year.
Year 2018 had not been very favourable towards Sri Lanka, especially during the latter part of it, particularly with a chaotic political culture. For the past 70 years, ever since Sri Lanka gained independence from the British, people in the country had not seen rowdyism in our Parliament where the so-called Members’ of Parliament behave like a bunch of kids by blocking the Speaker’s entry to the Parliament House, followed by fisticuffs, throwing books at the Speaker and one MP displaying a knife inside the Parliament! This uncouth behaviour caused a scuffle where one of the members sustained injury and started bleeding due to a wound caused by a sharp instrument. Finally, the victim had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment. This was seen on TV as the most horrendous incident, especially when some members started to remove the Speaker’s chair physically!
This incident was followed by the 50-day old UPFA Government MPs’ boycotting the Parliament alleging that the Speaker’s behaviour was partisan, while the UNP based UNF continued their struggle blaming the Opposition as the Government’s act as an illegal move. This, to a certain extent, paralysed the economy, till it ended. Finally, a seven-member panel of Judges confirmed that the action taken by the President to prorogue Parliament as illegal. This led the newly appointed UPFA Prime Minister to resign and the UNF to form a new Government.
During this political squabble, one thing that became clear was that all 225 MPs were hell bent on an egotistical power struggle, completely neglecting the suffering of the people and disregarding the national interest, which caused more misery and frustration among the citizenry.
Some political analysts said the President was committing a blunder by listening to his legal advisory luminaries, which led to the prorogation of Parliament. However, the most sensible thing would have been to test the pulse of the nation by holding a general election rather than going to Courts – wasting time and money.
When politicians were engaged in a dangerous and damaging political game, there existed a frenzied political situation too, where the whole country became more than a joke in the eyes of the international community with two Prime Ministers at first, and later with two Opposition Leaders. Adding more laughter to this comic scenario, Sri Lankan politics has been reduced to gutter level when MPs’ (including some junior Ministers) started crisscrossing the Parliament floor, to become order of the day, akin to rats abandoning a sinking ship!
The time has come at the beginning of a new year (2019) for voters to vote sensibly – against dangers. And for the sake of saving the country, all professionals, intellectuals, religious leaders, Buddhist Clergy and politicians alike, should shed their political ideologies, and to think of the country first – after all, without a nation, how can anyone achieve anything?
Pic credit: Ceylon Today