It is said that a ‘picture is worth a thousand words’ and this one speaks volumes. This image of a person standing, with arms raised, on a beach facing a massive ‘tidal’ wave was recently posted by a friend on his Instagram page. It resonated with me. Although it appears to be photoshopped, it still pulls you in, tempting you to offer perspectives on what it seems to be suggesting. At least, that’s how I reacted to it.
Perspectives on the Image and Life’s Challenges
I saw this person standing on the beach looking small and insignificant compared to the size of the wave. At the same time, the figure looks quite foolish if not outright suicidal. Who in their right mind would stand to wait for that deluge? And in that sense, you get the impression that the figure might possibly be saying to the waves, “you know what? Just drown me!” While on the other hand, the posture could be read as saying, “bring it!”
Both perspectives, drown me or bring it, captures at least a couple of the ways some persons ended 2017 and are preparing for 2018. The latter being the tidal wave, could no doubt have been predicted or life might have felt like a massive build of events that has culminated in the forming of a tidal wave. You recognize that you have no other choice but to face it head on and you’ll very likely drown. But if you do, it won’t be that you went out without a fighting spirit.
A Tidal Wave of Challenges and Opportunities
We waved goodbye to 2017 which was perhaps an amped up version of previous years; marked by the now common sense of rapid changes, destabilization, violence, excesses, and waste. And it was also marked by great strides in societal advances through technological developments, outstanding stories of the best of human compassion and kindness, off the charts humour and amazing accomplishments. It was a year like others in the past where we felt we’ve seen the best of the ‘best-things-ever’ and the worst or the ‘worst-things-ever.’
Surely, there was a lot of fence sitting in 2017, but one cannot deny that most of what we faced locally and internationally demanded a clear choice be made and a declaration of where one stood on the prevailing issues that dominated the media, communal and personal life. In this regard, 2017 was a year of significant human failings as well, where we witnessed cowardice, bullying, fear-mongering of the sort that drove fear in our hearts and caused some to yield to the temptation to buy into ‘end-times’ ideologies.
Reading the Signs as 2018 Emerges
The signs are clear for all who can see, 2018 will continue along the trajectory of previous years. Too much has been set in motion, for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ that will surely keep the wheels turning. The related concerns are too numerous to be enumerated here. However, speaking broadly, we can say that the challenges of poverty and the scandalous inequalities; the forced or willing movement of peoples, displaced by crisis or kidnapped for sale; the commodification and exploitation of children; the ongoing rape of the environment; and speaking of rape, the rising tide of voices of mostly women calling attention to the systemic blight of sexual assault as a global reality; and the exposing of rampant corruption and the true cost to the world especially the poorest of us all. 2018 will continue with the upheavals.
The trends show that it’s taking a toll on the human psyche. Mental health is riding on the front seat into this year. The rapid changes and the massive scale of life events and consequences are difficult to handle. The mental state of persons can no longer be scoffed at, taken lightly or taken for granted. Greater care has to be given in 2018. The despair is real and there are those who like the figure in the image above, who just want to be swallowed up by a giant wave as they feel they cannot take any more. And so, this year more has to be done to help persons cultivate a healthier attitude of resilience – who can defiantly say, ‘bring it!’ – you are a wave and you too shall pass over me and I will survive. Or not. And even if I don’t, I didn’t give up without a fight.
So welcome 2018, and I for one am looking forward to what it holds, not just for me but for the world at large. One thing I know, it will not be dull.