2011 is now 11 hours old. Awww…just a baby. But, already it’s covered in scars and has a nasty cough.

People are still being tortured for their faith, or ethnicity, or for living on land that other people want. Young people are still being convinced that blowing themselves up will somehow help convert others to their religion, or achieve some sort of greater good. Techonology is taking us into the realm of science fiction at a speed faster than light, and is even threatening to race ahead of imagination itself, but the majority of the world’s population is still without a safe water supply, or enough food for their family, or even a decent toilet.

Meanwhile, those of us who have the education; who have enough food, clothing and a decent place to live; who have an income and money to spare, spend our time using the internet to inform the world that we’re going to go to bed, or that we had our dog shampooed. We seem fascinated by ‘celebrity’ and accord those who are famous – because they’re rich or in the public eye – with far more wisdom and authority than any of them deserve. Why is it that practically everyone has heard of Paris Hilton but hardly anyone knows Liu Xiaobo**? (Okay, I confess, I had to look him up, too.) Things are sadly out of whack, people!

On the up-side, there are some wonderful people who are doing some amazing things. They’re building homes for the poor; they’re building schools in disadvantaged areas; they’re helping the poor find sustainable ways to create reliable income; they’re providing accessible medical care in remote rural areas… I’m in awe of all those self-less, generous, sacrificial saints who give their time and money and health to help others. God bless you all. You’re the people who make this world livable and give us hope.

Here we are with a brand new year ahead of us. What are we going to do and be in it? Are we going to be users and takers, or givers and healers? Are we going to add to the darkness, or are we going to light a candle or two? In the words of the great philosopher, Eeyore: A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.
I hope 2011 is kind to you and yours, and that you will be kind to it.

**Liu Xiaobo: awarded the 2010 Nobel peace prize for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.