The year 2019 was neither worse nor better

There were joys and sorrows in 2019. There was a global progress made in education and gender equality. Women in Iran were granted the right to go to live football matches for the first time in 40 years. Investment in healthcare technology grew, and in the first half of 2019 about $4.2 billion was invested in digital health and consumers can now choose from no fewer than 300,000 mobile healthcare applications (''The top healthcare trends we spotted at the 2019 HLTH conference'' seen 01/01/20). More than 1.4 million school children around the world walked out of their classes, known as the first ‘Fridays for Future’ global strike’, which was inspired by Greta Thunberg’s solo protest in 2018, and put the environmental debate into another level.

The issues that worried most of us last year were: ill-health and inequality in treatment and care, wealth disparities and dismal poverty, terrorism, crime, economic and political upheavals, work-life imbalance in favour of the former, failings of governments, discrimination, harassment, immigration, un- and under-employment, anger and discontent manifested in demonstrations and strikes, extremism, and environmental unrest (My family and friends Down Under celebrated the New Year yesterday amid deadly wildfires in Australia).

On a personal level, I had opportunities to do random acts of kindness. I participated in a chess game as part of the December Telethon and joined the Cancer Foundation’s fun run/walk to raise money for the sick and infirm. My letter of complaint on delayed and damaged luggage got attention.

I wrote to the Luxembourg’s Ministry of Consumer Protection and the European Consumer Centres Network that led me to the Centre Européen des Consommateurs France. To cut the story short, the Mediateur de la Consommation Luxembourg contacted Luxair. However, since mediation is not legally binding, the Mediation Centre’s letter got nowhere. As I mentioned in my previous blog, my complaint had more to do with principle than compensation. Nevertheless, the one hundred or so euros would have been a token of the company’s apology and expression of customer care — an amount which is nada compared to its advertising budget to attract or/and keep customers.

Would other airlines have done the same thing, i.e. refused the claim for compensation as the law states that the delayed flight should be at least three hours and the luggage should be un-usuable; in my case, the former was less than this and the latter was missing for 14 hours only but overnight with a damage? Thus, the almost 150 euros incurred wasn’t covered in the legislation. Who was responsible for such unnecessary expense and stress? My regret is that I didn’t offer assistance to a young lady crying next to me while I was filling in the lost baggage form as I was preoccupied with my own worry and frustration.

Will our last year’s concerns be the same in 2020? What can we do as individuals to make our global village more liveable, more peaceful, more equitable, and fairer? As the late Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

There’s no big or small action; we can give time, attention, money, smile, respect, understanding, tolerance, protection, material possessions, and kind words.

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein

Last but not least, I’d like to share with you this short video (here) sent to me by my Aussie friend, which is fitting not only during the new year but throughout our lives.

(This article also appears in my website Rolade Societal Blog - roladesocietalblog.com)

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