Phil Roeland

Time flies

What events changed the world in the last decade?

Another year has come and gone. 2009 flew past for me, that's for sure. Contrary to last year, I'm not going to dwell extensively on what happened in 2009. Although the world might still be in dire straits both economically and ecologically, it hasn't stopped turning or been invaded by aliens, fortunately.

As for events that changed the world during the last decade, I'll have a quick go. I guess 9/11 and the war on terror figure in the top 10, not to mention the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Come to think of it, global terrorism (remember London, Paris and Mumbai?) dominates the list to such an extent it's frightening.

Nature unleashed its forces en masse as well. The 2004 tsunami that hit South and Southeast Asia, cyclone Nargis (2008) which battered Myanmar and hurricane Katrina (2005) that destroyed New Orleans are some of the most devastating natural disasters of the last decades. No to mention all the floods, typhoons and mudslides which brought misery and suffering to millions worldwide.

Will terror and forces of nature bring our planet to its demise before climate change can do so? Who knows? Let's hope the leaders of our planet, together with the masses can find a way out of this quagmire before it's too late. Maybe we all should have a look at ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still', a sci-fi movie with Keany Reeves. By the way, stopping climate change isn't the only task that lies ahead. Reviving the global economy and keeping Earth safe at the same time is a gargantuan challenge indeed, but other dangers lurk around the corner.

Religious fanaticism in all its possible forms needs to be urgently addressed worldwide as well. Although I am willing to accept if not understand that many need some kind of god in their lives to be able to cope with the fears and uncertainties of their daily existence and its ‘aftermath', I cannot tolerate religious nutters shoving their faith in other people's throats, no matter what kind of religion they practise.

If it was up to me - and if I wasn't against most forms of censorship - I'd probably ban all kinds of religion outright given the many massacres and tragedies they have caused over the centuries. Call me an infidel or antichrist, but to me gods are just as real as aliens, ‘god particles' (which the Large Hadron Collider might still discover), and winning Euromillions lottery tickets. I mean, if there really was a god, don't you think he'd enjoy a stiff drink once in a while and let Mrs God, dressed in a summer skirt, drive him to a ball game instead of wasting his time in a temple/church/mosque/whatever preaching that putting on a party hat is sinful and pigs are inedible?

Anyway, let's not dwell on what may irk the devout readers and see what the last decade brought us. The ‘noughties' gave us Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging and similar nonsense. I haven't adopted these technologies (yet?) as they seem the Ultimate waste of time. It's nice to have email and photo-sharing sites to keep in contact with the rest of the world, but being available 24/7 just seems too Big Brotherish to me.

What will the next decade (tweens, twenteens, tennies or one-ders?) have in store? More technological gadgets I'm sure. If not particularly useful they might boost the economy yet make younger students completely brain-dead. Will Google be the successor to Microsoft as the Evil Monopoly? Many predict that computing will be done entirely in the ‘cloud' soon, so let's hope this cyber-heaven won't be ruled by one company.

Let's hope fashion sense and mindsets in some countries change so suicide vests can stop selling like hot cakes. Let's also hope the world can give up its obsession with plastic bags (Thailand in particular) and reduce pollution in general - air, water, noise, light, airwaves etc. - which is making our planet uninhabitable.

Finally there's some good news. Remember teacher Brian who went missing (column October 2006)? Well, he hasn't been murdered and dumped in a klong after all. He's alive and kicking and wishes you all the best. And so do I. Ganbei!

Have a look at my photos on Flickr 

I've also put together a games pack for you to use in the classroom. You can download the pack here or go to this site


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