Between hope and anguish: the portents of 2022


First word

At midnight yesterday (December 31, 2021), we entered the month of January and the new year 2022.

January is named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology.

Janus is not only the god of beginnings, doors, transitions, time, duality, doors, passages, frames and endings. He is generally represented as having two faces. He presided over the beginning and the end of conflicts and therefore of war and peace.

While the fundamental nature of Janus is debated, in the opinion of most modern scholars, the functions of the god can be seen as organized around one principle: to preside over all beginnings and transitions, whether abstract. or concrete, sacred or profane.

His function as the god of beginnings has been clearly expressed in many ancient sources, including Cicero, Ovid and Varro. Since movement and change are interconnected, it has a dual nature, symbolized by its two-headed image.

Janus symbolized change and transitions such as progress from the past to the future, from one condition to another, from one vision to another, and the growth of young people into adulthood.

Today, in the world’s transition and our own transition to 2022, this symbolic role of Janus is particularly appropriate and appropriate.

Nationally, 2022 will signify a period of major transition and change, when we foresee or hope for a generalized change or transformation in national policy, government, economy, society and national life.

Internationally, 2022 will be a critical period in international relations, and in the progress of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, where it could either fade or worsen.

Filipinos hope for the new year

For reasons other than just stalling, the arrival of the New Year is a time of challenge and opportunity for the Philippines. This is what historians call “an open moment”.

In five months, on May 9, the country will hold national elections to elect a new president and administration, as well as a new Congress and a new set of local executives to chair local governments across the country.

Then on June 30, the new administration – from the president to the legislature to the provinces and local communities, the new administration will take over.

Nationally, President Rodrigo Duterte’s entire administration will leave the scene, along with many of the policies and programs that have drawn the nation into so much debate and controversy.

These will be curtains for so many other elected officials, whose terms are running out or will not be re-elected in May.

This upcoming change of government adds a critical dimension to our national life and history. For the nation as a whole – for government, the private sector and all sectors of society – this should be the time to make a fresh start, it should be, at the very least, the time to raise the bar. for the nation to accomplish, for setting higher goals for our employees to be collectively achieved.

Our resolutions must be set not just for one year, but for an entire six-year presidential term (2022-2028). They can’t just be the usual resolution we dedicate ourselves to at the start of a new year. This time, they must reflect the nation we aspire to be in balance in this decade of the 2020s.

This vision must flow from the purpose of government, social sectors and above all the millions of people who make up the nation today.

Each of us has our own hopes and aspirations for the national future.

From my little corner, these are at least my hopes for our country and our people.

First of all, I hope that peace and security will finally reign on our land. I hope that by 2022 we will finally see the end of the half-century-old Communist uprising and similar rebellions. I hope that during this period we can strive and truly become a national community in which all members, regardless of creed, race and position in life, are truly brothers and sisters to one another. others.

Second, I hope that during this decade our country finally begins to realize its economic potential as the 12th most populous nation in the world, blessed with abundant natural resources and a gifted and talented people. With careful and far-sighted planning, our fast emerging economy should finally achieve high and sustained growth and lift the vast majority of our millions of people out of poverty.

Third, I hope to see our country stand as a respected member of the family of nations, respected for its important contribution to the advancement and progress of the world. I hope our nation will be seen as a leader in its own right. I envision our republic being respected and appreciated for its friendship and cooperation.

Finally, I hope to see our country and our people finally achieve their continuing aspiration to be a truly free, democratic and progressive society. Where parliamentary democracy was first established in Asia and where empowering people first found a voice and victory, the world will find even more experiences and ideas to share.

The new year gives the new administration an exceptional opportunity to make a big difference in the panorama of national history, if it can use its tenure as a time for a truly major reform and the building of a dynamic and progressive society.

New fears of a Covid tsunami

But just as our hopes were raised by the advent of the new year, the World Health Organization (WHO) sounded new alarms regarding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The WHO has expressed alarm that a Covid “tsunami” threatens to overwhelm health systems as record surges fueled by the Omicron variant have once again dampened New Year’s celebrations around the world.

Governments are walking a tightrope between antivirus restrictions and the need to keep societies and economies open as Omicron’s highly transmissible variant has driven cases to levels never seen before in the US, Britain , in France and Denmark.

The dizzying increase was illustrated by Agence France-Presse in its tally of 6.55 million new infections reported worldwide during the week ending Tuesday, the highest figure since the WHO said a Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

“I am very concerned that Omicron, being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“This is and will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers and health systems on the brink of collapse. “

The variant has already started to overwhelm some hospitals in the United States, the hardest-hit country where the seven-day average of new cases has reached 265,427, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

Harvard epidemiologist and immunologist Michael Mina tweeted that the number was likely just the “tip of the iceberg” with the true number likely much higher due to a shortage of tests.

But there was some hope as the data indicated a decoupling of the number of cases and hospitalizations.

“We must not get complacent,” leading US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said Wednesday, but “all indications point to a lesser gravity of Omicron.”

Millions of people around the world will once again welcome a new year in the shadow of the pandemic, which is known to have killed more than 5.4 million people to date, with festivities toned down or canceled in many countries.

Greece on Wednesday banned music in bars and restaurants in an attempt to curb New Year’s celebrations as public events have already been canceled.

The mayor of the Mexican capital has canceled the city’s massive New Year’s celebrations after a spike in cases.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, defended his decision not to restrict the festivities during the holidays, saying around 90% of Covid patients in intensive care had not received a vaccine booster.

The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus topped 10,000 in England, the highest total since March, as Britain on Wednesday reported a new record of 183,037 daily cases.

The heavy use of boosters in England “allows us to move forward with the New Year with the caution that we are,” Johnson said, despite further closures in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Across the Channel, France also hit a new daily record of over 200,000 cases – more than double the number on Christmas Day – as it extended the closure of nightclubs until January .

Wearing a mask outside will become compulsory in Paris on Friday for all people over 11 years old except people inside vehicles, cyclists, users of other two-wheelers such as scooters and athletes.

Denmark, which currently has the highest rate of infection per person in the world, recorded a new high of 23,228 new cases, which authorities attributed in part to the large number of tests carried out after the Christmas celebrations.

The Philippines has only reported four cases of Omicron, but health officials are trying to prevent another wave of the Delta variant after Covid infections spiked dramatically on Wednesday.

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