New year, new resolutions

LAST year was full of change. On the world stage, US President Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States, introducing a new style of leadership that has divided the world.

Syria's ongoing crisis entered its sixth year, and more than half a million Rohingya refugees fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh. At the same time, various African countries are facing food crisis while in other parts of the globe, food wastage is the norm.

Here in Malaysia, we've been gearing up for GE14, which Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has to call within the first half of this year. Thanks to the launch of the Mass Rapid Transit, we now enjoy seamless transport although I believe we haven't yet found a last-mile solution for the daily commuter.

Most of us also felt the pinch in our pockets as the value of the ringgit fluctuated throughout the year, which in my opinion has birthed more careful spenders and long-term planners. At the same time, the accelerated rise of cryptocurrency is changing the way we value goods and services.

While all of these changes may have affected us, there are also developments in our own lives to reflect upon as we step into 2018. For some of us, 2017 was the best year yet. For others, it may have been a painful season they wish to leave behind.

Still for others, it may have been a year of slow and gentle change, devoid of fireworks and tolling bells. No matter our circumstance, we know we're not the same people we were at the beginning of last year. Change is no respecter of persons. It happens to all of us.

And so the beginning of a new year is a good time to take a step back and see what our world has come to in the past year. With a renewed vision, we are able to conduct an attitude check and replant ourselves with the right posture.

A part of this replanting comes in the form of New Year resolutions. We commit to personal changes at the beginning of a new year because it signifies a fresh start, a clean slate.

Popular New Year resolutions include getting fitter, rebuilding a relationship, making a career switch, finding a partner, learning something new or discovering a hobby. These are changes to better ourselves, and are worthy of our time and effort.

If I may, though, I'd like to challenge us to commit to one more resolution: Pushing for positive change at the community, national, or even global level. Stamp out hate speech with gentleness and objectivity. Be purposeful in sharing fresh ideas with other artists and creatives to further develop the arts scene in Malaysia.

If you're interested in taking a stand for the voiceless and marginalised, commit to bringing their case into the spotlight this year. Support local schools' efforts to encourage sports and recreational activities among our youth by volunteering or donating.

Making a change beyond your world could also mean setting aside a few ringgit each week to help a friend or stranger who's struggled with massive changes in the past year. It's not necessarily loud changes that make the most impact.

So as much as we make personal commitments to change and better ourselves, let's begin the new year determined to impact not just ourselves, but our community, country and beyond. May 2018 be a year of meaningful and positive change for all of us.