Facebook routinely throws this question at us Facebookers, “What’s on your mind?” The answer is complicated. Plenty, I would say!

As is the wont, end of the year calls for grand reflections on one’s life and the world we live in. I am afraid the images that show up on my mindscape are depressing to say the least. Despite the constant iteration of the mantra, ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’ from the highest podiums, the world remains riven with family feuds. Obviously, some members of the global family are more equal than others.

A nation’s status depends on its economic and military might and where it stands on the global political totem pole. Despite a neutral body like the United Nations set up to maintain global peace, the world presents a gloomy picture of divided nations. A fractured world where human rights and international covenants lie tattered. Even though we’ve taken a quantum leap in many areas in the 21st century, there are many pockets on this planet that reek of medievalism. NIMBY (not in my back yard) is the reigning philosophy but the stark truth is that in the hyper-connected world today, someone’s backyard can be pitchforked into becoming the main battleground. It is not prudent to be too smug because it is easy to be blindsided.

As John Donne, the 17th century metaphysical poet wrote in his oft quoted poem, ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ that should ring an alarm bell in our minds too:

“Each man’s death diminishes me,/For I am involved in mankind./Therefore, send not to know/ For whom the bell tolls,/It tolls for thee.”

When one looks at political power play on parcels of land and borders, ethno-religious divides, linguistic intolerance, exploitation of the underprivileged, commercial greed, environmental degradation, gender disparity and much more, I am alarmed at ‘What Man has made of Man’ to use a line from a William Wordsworth poem.

The aggressors claim victimhood and the ones trampled underfoot are paraded as villains. The word ‘Humanity’ rings hollow as evident from the current Israel-Hamas brutal conflict which appears to be a horror film bordering on the apocalyptic. In W. B. Yeats’ dark poem, ‘The Second Coming’( 1919 ) written after the First World War, there seems a commentary on the current gut-wrenching horrors of both the Ukraine-Russia war and the West Asian conflict:

“Things fall apart, the centre can not hold,/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world;/The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere,/The ceremony of innocence is drowned,/The best lack all conviction, while the worst,/Are full of passionate intensity…”

And one dreads the beast “slouching towards Bethlehem” as Yeats writes in the poem cited above. Politics seems to lack visionary leaders of the calibre of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.

But as the cliché goes, hope springs eternal in the human bosom. Our prayer is that we earthlings realise the fragility of our existence in space and time and expunge the evil impulses that lead to discord and worse.

At the risk of sounding like a life coach, let me say that we need to look at the positives in life! Each day one gets up to see the sunrise or the earthrise, if we have to be more Copernican, one feels gratitude to be blessed with the beauty of a simple flowering branch spread across the window pane, thankful that you have a roof above your head and that you are a Homo Sapien.

Bestowed with a complex network of body and mind automated systems that have enabled you to achieve the impossible! With the gift of speech and expression and an unfettered imagination what a treasure-trove of achievements in fine arts, science and a host of other fields.

The beauty of thought and style in literature, visual beauty of movement and expression in dance, and the utter divinity and healing in musical notes and compositions. There is goodness still and one hopes and prays that we shall overcome!

That’s what’s on my mind and that of many others on this planet. Let’s ponder and shake off the demons of the mind to realise that life on earth can be sustainable and nurturing if we shed our egotistical obsession with self advancement and hubris of all kinds.

A new year's resolution we should all adopt is to light a fire with kindlings of kindness, compassion, concern and love for others! That’s the way to be in a circle of love and ‘The Circle of Life’ as the Lion King would say!

Cover Photograph: In the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham at Christmas, these reindeer are painted on a wall and appear to be pulling the bench that homeless people use as a bed.The purpose of the painting is to empower those who sleep rough and draw more attention to them. Graffiti by legendary and anonymous Banksy.