Today I celebrate 33 happy and eventful years on this earth. If I think about what life is like now and how different it was even when I was growing up, it’s mind blowing how much things have changed. How did we live 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, without having our smart phones at our fingertips? Would we have contemplated that gay marriage would be legalised in some places? Did we ever imagine that we would have a female Prime Minister of Australia or an African American President of the USA?
We’ve had some immeasurable improvements in our world recently, but there are some areas that still need addressing. Here is my wish list of things that I’d like for my birthday.
5. Improvement in the state of Australian politics
Politics in Australia descended into an almost farcical state this year. Julia Gillard “broke her promise” and launched her carbon tax, and Tony Abbott’s relentless negativity about absolutely everything meant that both of them are deeply unpopular as preferred Prime Ministers. Then there was the Peter Slipper scandal, days of debate about asylum seekers without a satisfactory resolution, and the carbon tax going ahead without any economic apocalypse as the Opposition had sensationally predicted. Hope next year is better.
4. End of gun culture in America
For any non-American observing the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, and any other American mass shooting, we are flabbergasted by the obsession with guns in America. The fact that gun sales go up after every massacre, and commentators insisting that the solution to these shootings is MORE guns, and that any citizen (that passes a background check) can buy high powered assault rifles that the army uses to kill many people quickly. Land of the free when one lives in fear of the next shooting?
3. Legalisation of drugs
As Richard Branson has written, $1 trillion USD has been spent on the war on drugs since the 70s and all we have to show for it is a ballooning prison population. Legalising marijuana, cocaine, or ecstasy is unlikely to make me or you all of a sudden develop an addiction to drugs, but it will raise government revenue for taxes (that could be spent on education or health services) and severely damage all the other black market economies that thrive off the drug industry such as prostitution, gun trafficking, money laundering, and the associated violence and deaths.
2. End to the conflicts in the Middle East
Whether it is the uprisings of those who will not tolerate oppressive dictatorships in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, or the ongoing battle over the occupied lands of Palestine by the proclaimed state of Israel, the Middle East has seen too much violence lately. Too many egos, too much pride, and too many people with a sense of entitlement putting their own agendas above those of their people and the greater good.
1. Equality for women
There are bigger problems than just the small number of women in Australian boardrooms, or the large pay disparity between men and women in the workforce. Around the world, women are oppressed. They are victims of genital mutilation, exploited in sex trafficking trades, murdered in so-called “honour killings” for bringing shame onto their families, and denied education (the passport to progression). How can we live in a fair and just world when half the population in some countries are treated as less than human?
What would you like to see improved in the world?
* Images courtesy of smh.com.au