All these events touched or related to me very personally. And even though we as a people witnessed so many unprecedented events, the year left me, as no years past ever had, with a pronounced sense of hope – a hope for the better.
THE OIL CRISIS. I drive a Prius. I do so because I think it is time to start acting to save the planet. These three words – SAVE THE PLANET – which seemingly carry with them a connotation of superhuman requirements. But really, I think it all boils down to personal responsibility. If you can budget it, then drive a fuel-efficient car. Power down your PC/TV/DVR/etc. when not in use. Insulate the windows in your home for the winter. Just small, easy steps – but immensely rewarding in the long run. You will see your bills go down. Maybe not immediately, maybe not as fast as you'd like – but they will go down. As will an even bigger bill – your carbon footprint will also begin to recede. Of course, these measures are far from the ideal, sustainable 2000-watt society envisioned by the Europeans, but it is a good start. I hope that 2009 will bring about a major difference in our understanding of these problems, as well as our approach to it – both privately and collectively.
I am not at all apocalyptic about the notion of humankind depleting the planet's oil reserves. We are lucky – we do have nearly unlimited resources to produce atomic energy. It is a well-developed technology, and many countries rely heavily on it: France – 80% of French electricity is produced from atomic stations; Japan – 90%, Germany – 50%. The U.S. clocks in at less than 5%. And the good news is that the fuel for the station – the Uranium 238/9 – is plentiful, enough for many hundreds of years, maybe even thousands.
THE FINANCIAL CRISIS. We all feel it. And like many, I have also lost some of my savings. However, I cannot help but smile, because I see the silver lining in this – I see the change, the great shift that is about to take place. Wall Street, our financial institutions, and those power-brokers who oversaw them, they needed to be changed. The system has become too corrupt, too insatiably gluttonous, and too smugly overconfident. I hope that the new order of things to come in 2009 will be rooted in fairness and transparency.
THE SUMMER OLYMPICS. What a magnificent event! As I watched the opening ceremonies, I felt both fascinated and frightened at the same time. It was quite the new experience – I'd never felt like this before. The frightening part for me came from the realization that this ceremony was the demonstration of the might of a new super-power. I've never been to China, but I did serve in the army, and am well aware of how much intensive drilling it takes to achieve perfectly synchronous actions with a large mass of people. Over 15,000 performers were seamlessly choreographed and coordinated in one place at one time. I doubt that our Western-bred individualistic mindset could produce such a result. It takes a culture hundreds, if not thousands of years to dissolve the concept of the individual, in favor of the societal or communalistic outlook. We have such different cultures, traditions, and potentials. I hope that we will find a way to peacefully and constructively cooperate with not only these new super-powers, but with all other countries and peoples. It is far better a thing to learn from others, to exchange ideas, rather than entering into antagonistic relationships peppered with unnecessary aggression.
THE ELECTON. Obama won! I'd supported him, but in all honesty, I didn't think he'd had much of a chance. His victory – this country's victory – made me very proud of us all. It showed me that we still have the ability to believe in good. So really, it's not Obama that won – it's all of us.
I like his Cabinet choices, as well as his general ideas for getting the country out of the recession, though they may not yet be detailed enough (at least in my own opinion). I very much hope that he will end the war in 2009. As for the economy, I believe it is better off on its own. People don't need much guidance – we don't need guidance. What we need is inspiration, and Obama has given this to us. The rest is governmental procedure. America is so great because it has never had to depend on its President – not in a constant state of dependence, anyway. I hope we won't be hearing too much about Obama this year – because the best deeds are never the loud ones.
So for my New Year's resolution, I resolve to keep my hopes high.