Hong Kong's Internet access is still rather iffy following the earthquake off Taiwan that damaged several undersea data cables just after Christmas, but is getting better gradually. However the difficulties of access during the last few days have provided me with a perfect excuse for my blogging lethargy. Normal service will be resumed soon.
Meanwhile, looking at the New Year celebrations around the world on TV, I was struck by how positive and joyous everyone seemed. We all know that 2006 was in many ways a horrible year, and that on any reasonable assessment of probability, in 2007 the Iraq War will continue to get bloodier, Israel and the Palestinians will remain at lethal loggerheads, human rights violations will worsen further around the world, terrorist bombings will take innocent lives at random, the rich will get richer while making sure the poor stay poor, more countries will seek to acquire nuclear weapons to keep the imperial US off their backs, thousands of square miles of tropical rainforest will disappear, and global warming will bring the planet a step closer to destruction while politicians do nothing effective about it. Yet in the face of all the evidence, we persist in looking forward to a better year than the one just passed.
From one perspective this is pretty foolish behaviour - the unfounded optimism of a confirmed gambler, always sure that next time the dice will fall differently. Yet I also find this capacity for finding joy and hope in the darkest of times one of the most endearing human characteristics - and one that perhaps helps us to keep going when all logic would lead us to just give up. And maybe one day (it does sometimes happen), if we all do our bit to make it so, the future really will be brighter.
Happy New Year!