For billions across the globe, the beginning of a new year is a time for renewal – renewal of health, renewal of hope, renewal of heart.
It is a time of refocusing on what can and should take priority.
Promises are made to oneself, to others. Purpose finds a way to eclipse understandable frustration, fatigue and often fear that creeps in as a year comes to ts conclusion. Turning the calendar to a new year seems to give permission to forgive, forget, and forge forward with greater energy, commitment and compassion…with a quiet prayer in heart that this fresh sense of spirit will endure in the months ahead, keeping personal aspirations, ambitions and affirmations buoyant, bold and befitting the gift of being able to begin again.
For tens of thousands of people across the UN world, be their involvement direct or indirect, this same spirit of ‘new year’ occurs not on January, bu in September, as the UN General Assembly takes over New York City. For over a week, global leaders of countries, corporations, institutions and ideologies come together to set the agenda for the global community. It is an invaluable time re-aligning operations, re-inspiring allies, re-positioning shared purpose, and where needed, reminding of what is shared. The UN GA programme is intense, in both areas of focus and individuals, messages and messengers capable of causing shock waves reaching far and wide. Not to mention logistical gridlock across one of the world’s most active international cities of commerce and politics.
And yet, for all of its pains of process, the UN GA remains an essential event on the calendar of not only global leaders of independent nations and corporations, but that of global idealists.
Why? Why does it matter?
Simply this: because idealists need to know they are not alone. In so many ways the UN GA acts not only as a call to action for the future, but a poignant confession of where we are today. As stated by HE Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations in his Opening address of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly:
“Our world is suffering from a bad case of ‘Trust Deficit Disorder.’ People are feeling troubled and insecure. Trust is at a breaking point. Trust in national institutions. Trust among states. Trust in the rules-based global order. Within countries, people are losing faith in political establishments, polarization is on the rise and populism is on the march. Among countries, cooperation is less certain and more difficult. Divisions in our Security Council are stark. Trust in global governance is also fragile, as 21st-century challenges outpace 20th-century institutions and mindsets. We have never had a true system of global governance, much less a fully democratic one.”
Someone had to say it.
But stopping there is not an option. The future narrative must be one that allows us to rise about, to reach out to our better angels, reminding ourselves of the greater ‘why’, not getting caught up int eh ‘who’, or ‘how much’.
Which is why Guterres continues, and concludes, with,:
“Still, across many decades, we established solid foundations for international cooperation. We came together as united nations to build institutions, norms and rules to advance our shared interests. As our Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, once reminded us: “We share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations. Our future rests on solidarity. We must repair broken trust. We must reinvigorate our multilateral project. And we must uphold dignity for one and for all.”
Sometimes, increasingly in these times, optimism and idealism can feel a quest beyond strength, beyond validity. Beyond individual credibility. Which is exactly why, 9 months into a year, the UN GA is such an important reboot of hope, bringing together people who seek to turn to our better angels, hushing the noise, even if for just a short while, to have idealism re-fed.
Because the reality is this – in our times of social (and unsocial) media connections and emojis of appreciation (or not), never have people felt more alone. The power of the UN GA is that it reaffirms a social network of a global community truly committed to, and hopeful for, a world where we actively, tirelessly, impatiently and unapologetically work for something greater than oneself. Where meeting a stranger in a hotel elevator allows for recognition that, whoever they are, they are here for the same shared purpose.
And whoever one is, their idealistic heart is not alone.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2018