MIRROR MIRROR ON US ALL

It’s hard to believe he could have ever imagined such a response. And yet literally overnight, on the eve of Australia’s national day, the video link of Stan Grant’s address at Australia’s IQ2 Forum on Racism in Australia three months earlier set the internet, and debate, on fire.

STAN GRANT Address – IQ2 Debate, October 2015

He says it himself – he never could have imagined the response,:

  • the over one million views of the address,
  • the national, regional and international interest,

and,

  • the strong responses of viewers, both supporting and scathing of his clearly and poignantly expressed point of view.

At the heart of his address was his people, people who seemingly needed him to turn the volume up on an issue felt to be muted. With remarkable passion of expression, somehow able to prevent cracking of voice and shedding of tears considering the emotional fire of his delivery, he told his story. Their story. Their sense of continued exclusion.

The issues expressed, the work he felt still needed to be done exposed, made clear the belief of the need for the nation to continue to look into the mirror, honestly, with eyes and heart open, and question, “Are we done enough for all?

The question posed, grounded in the clear sense of injustices still felt, have ignited a debate that many Australians feel needs to be reopened, Stan’s address questioned by the Sydney Morning Herald if it was to be “Australia’s Martin Luther King moment’. Many, on the other hand, feel it needs to stay closed. It is up to the Australian people to decide if they wish to look into the mirror and face wherever reflection looks back at them.

Watching Stan’s stirring address and the subsequent news coverage generated by its response, the story appearing as headline worthy within a line-up of global news stories representative of the challenges of our times, it was impossible not to feel that the discussion around ‘are we doing enough for all’ needs to continue.

But it is not only in Australia. Nations across the world from down under to far up north need to, in these challenging times, be stopping to ask, often.

Every day, national composition and conscience is seeing changes. Elections across the globe calling in new eras of leadership, industrialisation, and especially immigration, is putting not just economics and identity into question, but humanity. Stopping to look at who we are as a people, wherever that may be on the world map, and asking ‘who are we, what do we stand for…and are we doing enough for all’, is a critical part of a nation’s ability to move forward.

Fareed Zakaria, on his powerful GPS programme on CNN, recently shared that at last count 244 million people across the globe, effectively 3% of the world’s population, live in country other than that in which they were born. Integration has become one of our generation’s greatest issues – not if, but how. And, always asking, ‘are we doing enough?’

Countries, both those long established and those reborn, should never lose sight of this question. Whether the UK or countries in Europe finding long lines of refugees desperately knocking on their doors, the US or Canada with new leaders ready to set these nations on new paths of opportunity while subtle signs of dissatisfaction around perceived exclusion continue to bubble (as seen with recent raising of voices of discontent around The Academy’s diversity-deprived list of nominees for the 2016 Oscar Awards), or newly (re)born countries such as South Africa now approaching its 22nd birthday in April 2016 as voices rise around the nation’s fading rainbow, across the globe nations old and new are needing to look into the mirror.

Transformation, true transformation, does not come through politicians, or policy. These are people and structures there to help facilitate what must come, ultimately, through compassion of citizenry. The genuine desire to ensure that all citizens feel a valued part of society, without judgement, without ranking, with eyes shut and hearts open, is everyone’s responsibility.

Importantly, because of the ever-changing nature of our world today, people and places evolving to reflect the social, economic, environmental and political times in which we live, the process of transformation is never one to which we can say “we’re done.”

Whether the Australian dream, the American dream, the German dream, the South African dream, the Indian dream, the dream of any person in any nation worldwide, all people in all countries hold in their hearts a dream – a desire for a life that offers they and their loved ones safety, security and possibility of a better tomorrow.

It is the bold voices such as that of Stan Grant that reminds us to keep the mirror close by, working with a spirit of ‘we‘ so that all people of a country can look into their eyes, in their country, and instinctively smile.

Idealistic? Perhaps. But is idealism not an essential part of the DNA of a dream?

 

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

THERE IS ONLY ONE


 

2015.

A year of immense joy, and intense ache, is counting down its last days, and hours….

In its last 60 days alone, global events have shown how inseparably interconnected our world has become. As but one example, in the first days of November, the eyes and hearts of the world were focused on Paris as terror eclipsed the city of light’s deep, passionate, persistent glow. One night, one tragic night, connected the world through tragedy, through tears, through hope for a way forward in unity and peace.

One month later, the world once again turns to Paris as the world comes together once more to craft a historic accord to protect our world from the man-made, manufacturing-based, undeniable and inescapable forces of Climate Change.

Just one city, as one small example, of how our world has been so deeply grounded in the reality of one. To move forward, to look to 2016 with a sense of separateness, a sentiment of ‘I” rather than “we“, would cost out world exactly what it needs to survive the challenges of the day: our coming together as one.

Differences will, and do, exist. Different ways of thinking, of living, of dreaming. But differences need not divide. Quite the contrary. It is these differences that can in fact allow us to learn, to appreciate, to respect, to connect, as one fabric that wraps around the globe. One fabric seeking to stay strong by allowing each thread to weave its way through the collective, part of the whole, keeping all strong. For to pull out one thread would to be to weaken the fabric, putting all at risk….

As the new year nears, may this be a time at which we look around and see, with deep appreciation, how dearly we need one another. Call it ‘Ubuntu‘. Call it ‘harmony‘. Call it ‘humanity‘. Whatever it is, it is what keeps our world turning, our lives learning, our spirits feeling.

It is what makes us one – one by one by one.

Happy, truly happy, blessed 2016.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015

 

A WHISPER OF A PRAYER OF THANKS


 

In just a matter of hours, it will be December. And the countdown to the end of the year will be on. In actual fact, in some parts of the world it already is, the location of writing now being the west coast of the USA, one of the last locations of our slowly spinning globe to say ‘goodnight’ to the day. Hours, just hours, and the year will be in its T-31 mode, final TO-DO lists for the year being worked through in sweet anticipation of switching off the work part of the day and brain to allow for playtime…until time to toast the new year, and then move back into busyness.

As this time of heightened energy and emotion unfolds, this year, for so many reasons, the need to pause and say a quiet prayer of thanks is greater than ever before. While technically speaking ‘Thanksgiving’ just a few days ago in the USA, with hundreds of millions of Americans at home and around the world raising a glass over a feast shared with friends and family, to give thanks to all that is appreciated all around them, this year, the reasons for the world to stop, and consider, why billions should say thanks, could not be more vivid. In November alone, the mere 30 days of the month made the world’s nervous system stand on edge with reminders of the value of life, love and liberty.

As November unfolded, the month released a damn wall of emotions. With no warning, highs came crashing down.

Initial distraction from the everyday began as the first hours of the month ticked away. Across the globe, in one of the first parts of the world to welcome a new day, the nation of New Zealand was celebrating its historic win of the 2015 Rugby world Cup over neighbours and rivals Australia. The final whistle of the game played in London, England on October 31st would have been a morning victory cry down under. Across the globe, rugby fans felt a surge of energy be injected into November from the start – some celebrating, some commiserating, all united by the spirit of sport.

Into November we go, with its traditional mid-Q4 buzz and busyness, the days ahead viewed through different lenses… This, all while thousands, tens of thousands, of refugees were walking and walking and walking hundreds of miles. Hundreds of miles walked, bused, trained, perilously dangerously sailed, all in desperate hopes of finding a safe place for their exhausted children to sleep – a place they could call home, surrounded by people who would keep them safe each day even if they kept different ways of living  daily life. A human chain of hope, escaping hopelessness. Day after day, mile after mile.  Mapping – The Refugee Flow Towards Europe

And then, in the silence of hours passing with the hum of the everyday, it happened.

First Beirut.

Then Paris.

Then Bamako.

Then Tunis.

Four far-apart, global capital cities. Four moments during which thoughts, hearts, hopes froze. Four attacks, four fractures of peace of mind, in just one month. Landmarks across the globe became canvases for colours of the flags of nations that had recently suffered. Other nations honoured alongside, including Russia, with its loss of souls of nations in the skies up above Sharm.

Nous sommes 1.

Regardless of the date, whether of one flag or another, for millions and millions the world over pausing to give thanks took the form of a prayer than a toast. The seemingly simple things – our homes, our hopes, our health, our happiness, however that be defined, took on intense meaning, profound value. Each and every cell in one’s body suddenly felt awake, hyper-alive, and bruised. Only prayers seemed to sooth. And whispers of thanks.

Across the world, every day, we are reminded of all that we have to be grateful for. Our lives, our loves, our choices, and even our challenges that ultimately reveal our values and valuables. Still, so easily, these blessings are overlooked. Until those moments happen, macro or micro, that force us to stop, look, really look, and see just how much we have to be thankful for.

November, a month now part of 2015’s history, has made painfully clear that aspects of our lives that we can so easily and passively take for granted – what we wake to every day with a high degree of confidence that it will be there tomorrow just where we left them: people, places, possessions. These are the things millions of others are, today, taking on the greatest risks of their lives, the greatest treks of their lives, to even be able to imagine.

As December now steadily ticks towards the toasting of a new year, may our hearts never lose sight of just how blessed we are to be safe, to be home, to be loved.

Amen.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015

WORLD IN RWC UNION, COUNTRIES UNITED IN HOPE

 

And suddenly it is as if the city stops. London, October 2015. Official hosts of the 2015 RWC. Game day. Hit the national pause button. And those of nations taking to the field to stand tall and fight hard for their colours, their nation’s rugby honour, their personal dreams.

Whether in front of a television set, fan zone jumbo screen, stadium full of screaming fans, or computer screen following each move and moment, with each refresh of the score the heart seems to skip a beat. And it is only the Quarter Finals stage! As the match progresses, and muscles of the sports warriors on the field in national colours are pushed to points of pain beyond articulation, passion and determination thankfully eclipsing any feeling, so too are the muscles of spectators left feels weary as close, too close, matches play out. Come its final whistle, those not physically involved, at least not involved on the field, cannot help but laugh at themselves wondering why they are feeling so completely exhausted!

How can it be that a sport followed by so fewer than other main games such as football (soccer in US) can generate such fever pitch among followers, and nationals, alike? It is quite remarkable looking at the Top 10 global fan following numbers, Football topping the charts at an estimated over 3.5 billion fans (just under half of the world’s population), with Cricket coming in at over 2.5 billion, and interestingly, Field Hockey at 2 billion. Tennis at half that amount, with Volleyball just under the 1 billion mark, Table Tennis at 850 million, and then a jum downwards for the final four of the Top 10: Baseball at 500 million, Golf at 450 million, Basketball and American Football each at 400 million. Rugby, surprisingly, does not even feature in the Top 10, and yet at this exact moment, as the national anthems are being sung, the world of sport is watching.

Just a matter of seconds now before the RWC Finals begin, Australia’s Wallabies staring down New Zealand’s All Blacks as the Haka marks the call to battle, 80,000 electrifies followers raising the temperature of the tournament in the stadium as millions upon millions watch from across host country the UK, and the world.

This is the magic of sport, the awe of the human spirit being drawn together around a shared passion for not just the game, but for their flags.With an audience of over 750 million, and an event generating over  US$ 350 million, this is truly a world in union, and an absolute win for the global community.

As for the rugby, the champions are about to emerge.

www.rugbyworldcup.com/news/121536

 

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015

 

AND THEN AN ANGEL FORCED OUR ATTENTION


 

September 03rd, 2015. Across the world one image haunted millions of hearts.

There, on the gently lapping shores of Turkey’s southwest coastline, a tiny Syrian old boy, just 3 years of age, lay face down, emptied of life. His family’s hopes of a future of safety were now drowned in the waters between Greece and Turkey. Tragedy had gripped the life of the tiny tot.

Seeing the image ,the world was forced to look at the consequences of a growing humanitarian crisis: people leaving their homes and lives for the search of, the wish of, the desperate need for, a better life. Call them ‘immigrants‘. Call them’ refugees‘. In the end they are all the same – people seeking for better, somewhere else where safety and opportunity are hopefully waiting.

People dying to live.

This little boy, soon picked up like a little rag doll, his limbs dangling with having given up , was gone. What the soldier’s thoughts must have been, one can only imagine. And one can only assume that what looked like seawater droplets on the little child’s face were in fact teardrops having fallen from the eyes and heart of the soldier trying to keep even the little boy’s lifeless body safe.

Little Aylan left as his last cry the chilling, albeit silent, words of Look at me!!”

How does this happen? How can the world afford to turn away?

These unnatural moments of human tragedy have, sadly, become a critical triggers to finally, finally, activate caring – it takes one poignant image to open one global heart.

And now the world tunes in to watch the latest on the European migrant crisis with greater attention, greater care, greater concern….

Images such as that of little Aylan create for the world a silent yet deafening cry out for help – an appeal to look, understand, and please do something, turning an issue somewhere out there into an emergency everywhere. The need to understand, really understand what is happening, and see each victim as one heart desperately trying to keep beating, is what turns the lost souls in these iconic images into angels.

These little angels suddenly appear and force the attention of the world. And action.

While challenges may be localised somewhere on the globe, solutions are global. As strongly stated by Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, praised for her nation’s ‘here to help’, thought-trough approach to the crisis, her hope is that the European values will step forward, all nations, to demonstrate the values upon which the union was created. A life-saving example, and appeal, to the EU, and the world. A very rich perspective on the European crisis unfolding, and how best the European and global community can understand to be able to respond, is offered by the Head of UNHCR on http://www.unhcr.org/55e9793b6.html

The image of little Aylan now joins the world’s photo collection of defining moments of our times, everpresent as haunting reminders of our need to never look away. And to see the faces that grip our hearts as messengers of what needs to take action.

For as expressed by Kim Phuc, a name known by few and yet an image familiar to the world, she being the young Vietnamese girl just 9 years of age captured in a horror-revealing image of 1972 Vietnam war, an image is often referred to as ‘the photo that changed the war’,: “Try not to see her as a symbol of war, but try to see her as a symbol for peace.”

A picture is worth a thousand words, a million cries for help, and the opportunity for millions, millions more to do something.

 

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015

 

 

 

10 YEARS ON, GHOSTS STILL LINGER


 

It is one of those times that makes one recall, like a bookmark in the story of one’s life, “I remember where I was when….”

Whether in the place or not, one was firmly in the moment, wherever they may have been in the world. The world stopped, holding its breathe.

Hurricane KATRINA. One storm, one target. One defining moment.

Even 10 years on, stories, reflections, deep sight of recall, makes tears fall – tears of horror, tears of hope, tears questioning how this could have happened, and tears demanding that this never happen again.

As Mother Nature channeled her fury-filled temper towards the southern coast of the USA, the nation braced itself for a storm that defied fiction, and very swiftly and abusively, defied engineering. The Gulf Coast region tried desperately to duck our of harm’s way, but there was no escaping the damage, even if one happened to escape the storm’s path.

Overnight, as darkness fell and the skies started to scream, people and prayers clutched on to one another. As the sun rose, the horror of what had happened unfolded. The storm had ripped through the region, cutting through and washing away lives, livelihoods, hope. In New Orleans alone, the levees had broken, the water had risen flooding 80% of the city.

As stated by The Data Centre, “The storm displaced more than a million people in the Gulf Coast region. Many people returned home within days, but up to 600,000 households were still displaced a month later. At their peak, hurricane evacuee shelters housed 273,000 people and, later, FEMA trailers housed at least 114,000 households.” In the year following Katrina’s arrival, the population of the city dropped by 50% as families – those surviving – continued to wait to rebuild their lives.

The damage was traumatic, the city and Gulf Coast region, traumatised. In one night, with one wicked lashing, Katrina robbed the people of the Gulf Coast region of their dignity, their sense of security, and for hundreds of thousands, their belief in humanity. Scenes of fury from the Superdome, to scenes of death and decay from the flooded streets, revealed how alone millions were feeling.

While the official counts of costs of Katrina are well documented, 1800 lives and over US$ 135billion in damages, the cost spiritually was so much more. How could this have happened? How could such profound loss occur in one of the richest countries in the world? How could a nation priding itself on embracing those from near and afar be felt to be so uncaring, by its own, in their darkest days? And how could of the rest of the world simply sit back and watch?

It was a time that caused many to look down.

Many across the region, across the country. And across the world.

The learnings around Katrina are many. Preparing for a storm can be done with exceptional confidence that essential infrastructure will not fail. And yet, the scars are still raw, even if the levees are now secure. Those there to help, to survive, reflecting back on those horrific days, know that it is not only the hardware of a city that needs to be strong to survive such storms, it is the software – the spirits of the people, those needing help, and those helping, whether around the corner or around the world.

As the 10th Anniversary of Katrina is reached, many know these learnings all too well. Today, while some of the region’s hardest hit areas are now rebuilt with stronger pride and purpose, their people determined to move forward, the distinct musical sounds of the south filling the air, still, there are some where only ghosts reside. Today, 10 years on, the ghosts still walk the streets, shaking their heads, unable to comprehend how this could ever have happened.

In today’s day and age, there is no country immune to crisis, be it natural, economic, social or political.  May Katrina’s ghosts continue to remind us, everywhere, of the need to never look away, from hope, and from others needing our help.

In times of crisis, sometimes even Mother Nature can be forgiven for inflicting such hurt….but not human nature. Strength of spirit and strength of structure go hand in hand when it comes to rebuilding communities, rebuilding lives.

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015

 

 

ONE SON CONNECTING WORLDS AS ONE TRIBE


 

Today, just one week ago, the hearts of Kenyans across the nation, and world, were alight. Not just Kenyans of direct descent, but those of any connection to the great land, anywhere across the globe.

For many, it was their first time in a long time, if not their lifetime, that such pride was aglow in their beings, such anticipation in their breaths, such a feeling of worth in their spirits.

The reason? The official communiques all expressed the same message: the President of the United States of America was making a state visit to attend the 6th Global Entrepreneurship Summit. But for Kenyans, far and wide, however they may be connected to this great land, it was about so much more than a leader of the free world landing on their tarmac in Air Force One, with all of the protocol, pomp and pageantry. Their son was coming home.

As eloquently expressed by one of Kenya’s proud nationals in the lead-up to the presidential visit, Kenyans were able to “bask in the glory and honor of ushering ‘our own son of the soil’ for the grand homecoming that seems to remind us that #weareone.”

After years of waiting, having been seemingly passed over during his first visit to the continent on taking office, despite debate around issues of safety and security, Kenya’s son was returning home. All was forgiven.

Months of intense preparation and days of  sweet anticipation crescendoed to a moment of complete jubilation seeing his sharply cut figure descending the aircraft staircase to be warm embraces of his half-sister and H.E. President Kenyatta. A nation that has been breathing heavily for years, as a result of unprecedented challenges to its peace or mind and place which has put untold pressure on the lives and livelihoods of its people, and weakened the threads of its flag, was finally able to exhale, exhale deeply, and smile.

The power of this feeling of national pride cannot, and should not, ever be forgotten.

For Kenyans, without doubt, they will never. But the after-glow does not end with the people of Kenya. Across the globe, people watching President Obama speaking to the people of his father’s homeland, felt the glow start to penetrate their hearts:

Words of inspiration, direction and unity.

Words clearly expressing the thoughts and feelings of one of the world’s great leaders and the nation’s great sons – words which showed solidarity of beliefs, and at times, differences, passion of position, wherever shared or not.

Words which stated the desire to be part of the solution, there on the front line of challenges, hand in hand.

Words which the President knew would echo in the minds and history books of Kenya and the United States of America for years to come.

Words spoken by one to another, and another, and another, and another…from one country, reaching out to one world. With each speech, soundbyte and snapshot, the Presidential visit provided a rare occasion when the global community could look at another nation and smile, excited for them, there with them, from wherever in the world they may be tuning in, logging in, reading, celebrating with the people of Kenya.

 edition.cnn.com/2015/07/26/politics/obama-speech-kenya/index.html

In those moments, history was being made, at so many levels. Political? Yes, of course. But also deeply personal.

The calling home of Kenya’s son turned into a calling on of all people to stand up, and step forward, in facing today’s challenges, and embracing today’s opportunity, for one safer, more secure, more united and more compassionate tomorrow.

As with all callings, the meaning soaked in. As, for a moment, across the globe, geopolitics were paused as people felt the pure comfort and pride of knowing, as President Obama said it so simply yet poetically in his address to the nation, “In the end, we are all a part of one tribe, the human tribe.”

 

 

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015

 

CRISIS EXPOSING TOURISM’S CRITICAL IMPACT

 

Month after month, the value of the global Tourism sector reveals its invaluable impact on economies, societies, futures. The monthly statistics on traveller movements and spend showcase the impact that individual travellers crossing borders, over 3.1 million per day, on the places that they visit and people that they meet.

The month of June has been particularly vivid in its expressions of impact, with the month opening with the IATA Annual General Meeting. With over 1000 leaders from the global aviation world coming together in Miami, including Presidents and CEOs from IATA’s 257-strong member airlines across the globe, the critical role of aviation to global development was clearly stated by Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO in his all-important ‘State of the Industry’ address where he spoke of the benefits created by “a worldwide network of some 51,000 routes“, continuing to explain that “this year 3.5 billion passengers and nearly 55 million tonnes of cargo will travel safely by air. And that’s only the beginning of the story. Airlines create jobs. We directly employ 2.5 million people. A further 56 million work in the value chain.  And there are countless more jobs in businesses that rely on airlines to deliver some $6 trillion of goods to global markets.”

Moving away from the numbers and making the more personal link to the travel & tourism sector,  the address went on to remind all present of the wonder of the freedom of movement: “Airlines create intangible benefits. How many deals are sealed in meetings that involved air travel? How many great ideas took root on a journey of discovery? How important are ties to family and friends maintained over great distances? And how can you measure the value of the freedom to expand horizons that air travel makes possible?”

All those in the great AGM hall, all experts in their respective areas of aviation, knew these words to be true. To pull back the velvet curtain of the glamorous, exciting world of aviation is to see the essential role that the industry plays, keeping the world moving forward, both for those travelling and those supporting the travel journey.

As the month unfolded, momentum of midyear travel activity continued to grow. Regional statistics showed signs for strong confidence for the all-important summer holiday season.

And then it was June 26th happened. Holiday makers lounging in beach chairs on the hotel-heavy beachfront of the resort town of Sousse, eyes and minds shut as they soaked up the sunshine and sensation of being on a long-awaited, deserved break, were woken by horror. Tragedy once again touched Tunisia, leaving 38 at the Riu Imperial Marhaba hotel at a loss of life, a nation at a loss for words, and an essential tourism industry at a loss of hope.

With an immediate exodus of tourists, the tragedy began to soak more deeply into the national psyche, as the impact of the tourism industry – and its collapse – moved to the forefront of post-tragedy analysis. As stated by the Prime Minister of Tunisia, the tourism industry – a major artery of the Tourism economy and identity employing over 13% of Tunisians (just under 500,000 in 2014) and representing over 15% of GDP – is “drowning”.

This after a rallying of support for the sector by global travellers following March’s attack at Tunis’ Bardo Museum.

This time, it is harder for travellers to look to Tunisia as a real option.

Through the tragedy, one of the messages being magnified within and outside the industry: Tourism is vital to national stability and, in these times of crisis, recovery.

This message now echoes across Greece as the nation, which is also one of the world’s most desirable tourism destinations, faces economic crisis – crisis, and therefore looks desperately to Tourism, the employer of almost 1 in 5 Grecians and accounting for 17% of GDP, to keep the country economy and spirits buoyant.

As occurred in 2008 when the world was gripped by global economic downturn, understanding and appreciation has once again emerged around the economic value of sectors often overlooked as non-essential. Tourism remains at the forefront of the wave of awareness spreading out across global maps and markets. And also mindsets, for it is Travel & Tourism which makes it possible for different people from different parts of the world and come together to gain understanding, respect and appreciation for different ways of living, different ways of thinking, all while sharing similar dreams and desires for a future of peace and purpose.

Jobs. Earnings. Participation. Unity. Stability. Identity. Hope.

Qualitatively and quantitatively, the Travel & Tourism sector has become a critical lever for global stability, not just economically, but socially and spiritually. Especially during these trying times when the hearts, minds, hopes and travel movements of people across the world so dearly need to come together as one.

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015

 

 

 

PLAYING FAIR, PLAYING FOR ALL


 

The past week has been one of high drama for the game of football. But sadly not on the pitch.

With the world’s leading football body, FIFA, coming under unprecedented accusation and condemnation, the game playing took on a whole, new, nasty nature. A sport that has brought millions across the world together for years, and has been a part of the fabric of many nations’ pride, unity and even identity, brought its passionate followers to states of emotion never seen before in the sport. Outrage became the sport’s unifying sentiment. Along with grave disappointment, though many would say not surprise.

The intense bruising of FIFA’s credibility, and outright challenge to its honesty of operations, has many across the globe arguing that, while this is a tragedy for FIFA, it may in fact be what the beautiful game has been needing for years. Finally, the velvet curtain is being pulled back, concerns are being followed up, concrete evidence is being collected, and charges are being made.

How far and wide the shadow of shame will go is yet to be seen. What is clearly visible, however, is that the love of the game remains strong, and its fans and followers across the globe are prepared to fight for its honesty.

The undeniable fall of FIFA this past week as the guardian of the world’s most widely played and cherished sport has shown, once again how richly unifying, and transcending, sport can be, and is. A game that is played by literally billions around the world, its moves intuitive, and its spirit infectious, has become a force that has unified nationals, and nations, for as long as lovers of the game can remember. Creating iconic moments, heroes, defining images, electric events, landmark centres of sport, and dreams of “maybe one day that will be me!”, football represents one of our great global languages.

What has this past week done to the fans of football far and wide? It has created an important separation between sport and sports bodies. And it has made clear there are some conversation, some negotiations, that the game is unwilling to engage in. There are some moves in the game that true lovers of the sport are unwilling, absolutely unwilling, to play.

This has to be a good thing.

The outrage must remain as a fuel of fury, inspiring football’s community, whether fans or officials, sponsors, players or profilers, to come together. Now is the moment for the sport to feel sits real strength – the billions of people across the globe who have made it the truly beautiful game.

As poignantly and earnestly expressed by Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Hussein in his powerful, albeit unsuccessful, FIFA election speech,:

“We are guardians of a Game that is not simply for the world, it is a game that is loved and cherished by the world. A game that is celebrated and a game that has the power to unite and to heal. That brings joy and tears. And that is about men and women who give their all and then more still… To inspire and guide the young. To entertain through suspense and endeavor. And to give pride to nations and regions.

The world that is watching is not a stakeholder that is somehow separate from our Game – FIFA does not exist in a bubble; the world that is watching is part of us, and we are part of it.”

As with all dark, long nights, there is always the promise of a new dawn. Now is the time for football lovers around the world to step forward and take their positions.

Game on!

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015

AS THE GROUND SHAKES APART, THE WORLD UNITES

 

For all of the awe and analysis that comes with observing the evolution of the global travel and tourism industry, one truth remains at the core of the ‘why‘ of global travel: the world wants, and needs, to connect. And there is no greater force than travel and tourism to enable people of different places to find common interests, common bonds, common understanding.

Since 2015 began, so much has occurred to show just how divided the world we live in today is. Geography. Ideology. Politics. Economics.

And then something happens that causes a shaking of the global psyche, bringing us all together.  Uniting us around a common value: a life lived.

Just days ago the Earth shook and Nepal fell. As the rubble rolled its way towards a stop-point the world stopped to catch its breath, and find ways to keep survivors strong, hopeful, breathing. It’s not about national efforts – it is about millions of people across nations coming together to help, simply because it is the right thing to do. Because ultimately we are one global community.

Today, at this point in the post-tragedy phase, here is where we are in terms of global response: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/25/world/nepal-earthquake-how-to-help/index.html

How can one help? this is the best way to find the best route of support: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/25/world/nepal-earthquake-how-to-help/index.html

However we respond, however we choose to show our support, may it create a deep sense of, above all, above all nations, we are one global community. And in times of crisis, we could only be so fortunate for the world to respond to our personal need in the same way.

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/25/world/nepal-earthquake-how-to-help/index.html

 

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015