#ThinkingAllowed: ​Facebook trivia means all’s well

#ThinkingAllowed: ​Facebook trivia means all’s well

For years it was a stereotype of beauty pageants. We would sneer at the comment.  It featured as a running joke in the movie Miss Congeniality.  So what happened to wishing above all else for world peace?

As we reflect on the outrageous year that 2016 has been I cannot help but thinking how blessed and lucky we are in Gibraltar.

A few weeks ago I was doing some freelance work for an international news desk. Not that I needed reminding of how volatile the world has become but as I typed away on several stories I realised what a picture of doom and gloom the news bulletin would be. 160 dead in Nigeria after a roof collapsed, scores dead in Cairo bombing, 25 killed in Istanbul Stadium blast, 39 killed in Kenya, a car bomb in Mogadishu and more bloodshed on the streets of Aleppo in Syria. Unfortunately it was the content of a single news programme – that was the news reflection of the world on that day.

Then just days before Christmas the deadly lorry attack on a Berlin Christmas market. What terrible and awful news.  As journalists we almost become detached, but it is impossible not to feel any emotion at all when such tragic events unfold.

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But, there are also great stories to tell too – of unique heroism and stories which reaffirm our faith in humanity.  People who risk their lives to help others and recently the story of the 89-year-old war veteran from Devon who placed an advert because he was “dying of boredom” saw a huge response.  He even got a job offer.  So, let’s not forget there are also a lot of good people out there.

Sometimes we take living in a place like Gibraltar for granted.  We moan about the bus running late, the double red lines outside the Gibraltar International Bank, which means we have to walk further to use the cash machines, or the levanter spoiling our day.

It’s all a good sign – when Facebook feeds are full of trivial matters it means Gibraltar is in a good place.  Of course there are problems, all countries and communities have them. But, they are minor compared with current world problems.

Live in London and you will not bat an eyelid if you pay £2.95 for a coffee, almost £5 for a pint (it varies depending where you are) and hundreds for train travel.  A daily commute which was rocked by industrial action which left thousands of passengers stranded.

Agree or disagree with the local politics of the day but at least there is a democratic system. For democratic deficit look to places like The Gambia where President Jamal refused to accept defeat after 22 years in power. 

This Christmas in London homelessness has been a real issue.  Forget about the figures and statistics but walk the streets of London and you will find people sleeping rough on the streets at every corner. Let us think of them as individuals who are struggling, not as a number.

It does not mean that we do not want Gibraltar to be the best it can be, that we shouldn’t aim to fix any issues which exist in our community.  I am not arguing that Gibraltar does not have problems and challenges ahead.  It does.

2017 will bring its obstacles for Gibraltar – not least the prospect and uncertainty of Brexit.  How will it affect us and will it have an impact on our quality of life?

There will also be issues affecting individuals and for them those will be the most important.

We must also remain vigilant against the threat of terrorism and be the eyes and ears of law enforcement agents. We have a collective responsibility to do so. Do not become complacent but do continue to enjoy life in a beautiful Mediterranean climate in a very special part of the world – a Rock we call home.

Happy New Year to all and may 2017 turn out to be a good year for us all.

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James Neish
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