Farewell 2020 – What a year that was!

I have a 12lb turkey and an 12lb goose currently filling my freezer and keeping each other company for a while. And there is nothing worse than freezing these birds when I would much rather have been surrounded by family and friends enjoying the festive period and eating them. But sadly in 2020 it just wasn’t to be.

I’m sure I am not alone in saying that I really am looking forward to the back of 2020 as we have missed the company of our extended families and friends.  A part of me feels guilty about this though as I was reminded today of a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuH) that states “Do not curse time, for God is Time”.  But 2020 has been a year full of so much uncertainty, when we have had to adapt to a new way of living and working. And a year filled with sadness for so many. I for one am very much looking forward to the new year. Having said that, there have been some highs among the many lows and as an eternal optimist, I know 2021 will be better. Eventually. So what will I remember the last 365 days for?

2020, the year new words, phrases and behaviours entered our world. Covid, lockdown, daily government briefings, “the germ”, face masks, anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, 2 metre distancing, elbow-shaking, “you’re on mute” and the legacy hand are just a few of the things that come to mind. Clapping for the NHS, Joe Wicks? No chance! We used to have our own family workout in the garden! Less takeaways, great! Fresh bread, homemade soups, curries, naan breads and cheesecakes! Daily walks with my granddaughter, watching my little grandson grow, Mitzvah Day, Ramadan, Eid, Diwali, Christmas, all in lockdown. A new sewing machine however meant I could finally fix my curtains and make some new cushions. And of course the joys of working from home, setting up a “home office” and issues with the broadband – constantly.

The year hasn’t been fun and games for everyone – it has been difficult, relentless and unforgiving. So many people have lost their jobs, their livelihoods and income. We have all missed basic human contact with family, friends and work colleagues, their smiling faces, a hand shake and the hugs.  So many have lost loved ones to this horrible illness. Countless others are recovering and having to live with long term consequences of the illness. Our health service, doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners and carers have all been overwhelmed but have kept going to keep us safe and well. From the bin-men, postmen, shelf stackers and checkout staff in our supermarkets. Each and everyone deserves our thanks and gratitude for keeping us going. Not to forget those amazing men and women trying to continue the education of our young people in schools, colleges and universities. It’s been a difficult year, but so many have shown that humanity is inherently resilient, kind, compassionate and caring. We have seen so many acts of kindness across the country, from local communities caring for vulnerable neighbours, support for the countless organisations providing basic provisions to the homeless, to the support being given to families unable to feed their children during school holidays. To all of you, I say thank you. For keeping me and so many others, well, sane and at least 2 meters away at all times.

And as I was reminded by one NYE message, may 2021 be the year ‘corona’ reverts to being just a beer (apparently, I’m a Muslim, how would I know?), the name Donald makes us think of a DUCK, when tiers sit on a cake and bubbles are what my grandchildren love playing with!

I suppose I should end by saying farewell Europe (I’ll be back). But I wont. Instead I’ll end with wishing you all a very Happy New Year – praying for one better than the last, for each and every one of us!

“By time, indeed mankind is in loss, except for those who have believed, and done righteous deeds and advised each to truth and advised each other to patience”. (Quran 103)

Dear Eliza – An apology

My dearest Granddaughter Eliza

There are few things in life that give us immense pleasure, this sense of absolute joy, this awe that life can never get any better than this. Your wedding day, the birth of your child, and beyond all imagination the birth of a grandchild.

You were born a mere forty nine days ago, just 99 days after Britain voted to leave the European Union. Just 120 hours ago America elected its 45th President Donald Trump. And suddenly the world feels like a very dark and dangerous place. The world you are going to inherit is no longer the relatively cosy world I have had the pleasure of inhabiting for the last 50+ years. It has not been perfect, but it seems to have taken a sinister turn. And for that I feel you are owed an explanation.

There have always been concentrations of wealth amongst the few but the plutocrats of today seem to hold absolute power over governments and the global political systems. Crony capitalism goes from strength to strength and the middle class is shrinking.  The vortex of minimum wage labour is relentlessly pulling everyone towards it – with the exception of the privileged few.

There has always been racism and discrimination in the Britain I grew up in. But over the last three years there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of violent, racist incidents. Levels of hate speech aimed at Muslims, indeed anyone ‘foreign’ have risen. People appear to be more interested in filming people being attacked or abused on their mobiles, rather than risking their own safety by intervening and stopping these events from taking place. Anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic sentiments appear to be insidious – in our daily lives, in newspapers, online and particularly on social media. The scariest thing is this situation is being worsened by the very people in society who should be protecting these groups and challenging it. Our politicians.

When you have politicians who peddle their dirty politics and incite hatred in the guise of ‘political campaigning’; who claim their country’s problems can be resolved if only we didn’t have so many immigrants; who claim the world would be a better, safer place if one group of people didn’t exist; who use the plight of refugees and the images of drowned children for their own political point scoring and use terms more commonly associated with individuals who  committed appalling acts of genocide; we are providing elements of society with the green card they need to go out and attack and abuse those who are different and those who are most vulnerable.

And now the ‘free world’ has gone through an election where the forces of racism, xenophobia, bullying and ignorance have been let loose . Mother Earth must be weeping.

And this is the world you are to inherit. Where climate change and global trade tariffs are going to create misery and death on a biblical scale for the world’s poor, even if we avoid a recurrence of a 1930s style depression. My generation have failed you.

We have failed to mobilise those voices, those individuals in the world who still hold dear the basic human values of kindness, generosity, compassion, caring and respect. It is not that these types of people do not exist. I believe the good people in our world, in their heart of hearts, never thought any of this was possible. And as a result those millions of people who voted for Mr. Trump did so, not because they are racists, but as Bernie Sanders pointed out, did so because they are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo that has resulted in the suffering of millions, through unemployment, homelessness and drug abuse. It was these individuals who were taken in by a wave of anger and were manipulated by the lies and scaremongering tactics by the cartoons, adverts and posters.  This is what has been used to convince people with genuine grievances who are angry with their lot that the solutions were simple. We were taken unaware. We were caught napping. And your generation is left with picking up the pieces.

And for that I can only apologise.

But there can be no silver linings without clouds and it is that silver lining we now need to find.   Angela Merkel drew a line in the sand when she said that her relationship with Trump would only succeed if he upheld “the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views.”

Secretary Clinton’s dignified reaction gives us hope; “This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it …We need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives… I count my blessings every single day …our best days are still ahead of us…scripture tells us, let us not to grow weary of doing good, for in good season we shall reap…let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.”

Eliza, Hillary Clinton  also had a message for you  “And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

“The point in history at which we stand is full of promise and danger. The world will either move forward toward unity and widely shared prosperity – or it will move apart.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt) This is the task that my generation has set you, ensuring that as we move forward, we move towards unity. Your generation will have the task of healing the gaping wounds that my generation has inflicted on the world. Be sure to fight for what is right, for democracy, for respect and tolerance and always search for the very best in humanity .

“No reason have we why we should not put our trust on God. Indeed He Has guided us to the ways we (follow). We shall certainly bear with patience all the hurt you may cause us. For those who put their trust should put their trust in God.” (Surah İbrahim, 12)

Lots of love

Your Daadijaan xxx

 

 

 

 

 

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