“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Napoleon Bonaparte
“There’s always another story. There’s more than meets the eye.” ― W.H. Auden
“We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
“The most reliable way to forecast the future is to try to understand the present.” John Naisbitt
“We don’t see the world the way it is. We see the world the way we are.” Leif Hetland
As we enter a new decade, and as I write the 125th edition of “More than Meets the Eye,” I am reminded that this week also marks MTMTE’s third year-end review. Next week I plan to write the third forecast for the coming year. By looking backwards at the ten most significant events of the past year and then examining trends for next year, we will be more able to enter into the new era with confidence and understanding.
In last year’s review, as we looked backwards to 2018 we segmented global events by continents. This year we will focus more on the events than on the continents. We will discuss possible trends in 2020. We will accomplish that by re-examining 2019. We will check out some trends and extrapolate through reflection what we can most likely expect in 2020. I am not trying to prophecy in the classical sense of the word. I simply want to give all of our readers a sense of what we can expect globally in the coming year. For a MTMTE mid-year analysis of 2019 crises, click here.
Ten of the Most Significant Events of 2019
- Persian Gulf Conflict- The Persian Gulf remains a powder keg. The Saudi vs Iranian leadership of the Middle East is an incredibly significant matter to the entire globe. Twenty five percent of the world’s petroleum supply flows through the Strait of Hormuz. Should war break out in the Persian Gulf, it would set the entire world on fire and an economic crisis would ensue that would leave billions in a panic. For a MTMTE reference article in 2019, click here.
- India’s Annexation of Kashmir- In August, tensions escalated after Prime Minister Modi’s government revoked the special status of the disputed region of Kashmir, which had granted the area some autonomy since the 1947 annexation of Kashmir into India. Mainstream media reported this event as an illegal annexation, but the legal grounds for its possession of Kashmir as an India state had already been established in 1947. However, the region remains in a state of elevated tension as Pakistan, terrorist groups and the Kashmir people themselves, see this event as a violation of international law. There will be more eruptions of violence in the future. For the 2019 MTMTE article, click here.
- Hong Kong Demonstrations- This movement will set the stage for the future as a very significant event for China and for the rest of the world. To date, China has chosen a rather soft-handed approach, but should Hong Kong turn into another Tiananmen Square all the variables could escalate quickly. Hong Kong could turn into a massacre and the Chinese could find themselves once again ostracized by the rest of the world, standing on the outside looking in. For an in-depth look at why these demonstrations are significant, click here.
- Brexit- Though there is not much more than meets the eye concerning this series of events, that may change soon. It is clear that this event holds potential for the unraveling of the European Union. Already the Italians are considering an “Italexit.” Europe is heavily dominated by the Germans and the French. Proud nationals from Britain, Italy, and Spain are tired of being the little brothers and sisters to their European neighbors. For a better understanding of Brexit, click here.
- US-China Trade War- The trade war is a low-hovering event that has flown below most of the world’s radar over the last year. There is a lot of speculation over how it may turn out. Much of it will be determined by variables that most of us will not be able to understand. Unless one comprehends the geopolitics of the US and China, it will be difficult to grasp the complexity of what is happening in the midst of this cold war-esque conflict. It is not over by a long shot, but you might be surprised to see who is currently winning this struggle. For a better understanding of the US/China Trade War, click here.
- Impeachment of President Donald Trump- I have elected to not write much, if anything about the Impeachment of President Donald Trump. It has not seemed newsworthy to me. It does however, show up on the radar screen more often than I care to mention and is being lauded as a major win by the mainstream press. Personally, I think it may be the mis-calculation of the century. I haven’t taken it too seriously, since reading that democratic congressmen have tried to impeach every sitting republican president since President Eisenhower, with exception to Gerald Ford. He was in office for only two years after taking over when President Nixon resigned. Attempts to impeach the president began his first day in office with the Mueller investigations. It was only a matter of time before they came up with something that they thought would stick. It will continue into the next year and maybe into the foreseeable future. A pretty good article on the impeachment is in the Foreign Policy Journal. Click here.
- Growth of Deception Industry- The deception industry is a burgeoning enterprise. New technologies of masking the truth and proliferating untruth have arrived on our door-step. The ability to discern between the two has becoming increasingly difficult. Between fake-news, deep-fakes, misinformation campaigns and deception operations, the coming years will require a more sophisticated understanding of truth and where to find it. Certainly, that is my goal and it is my desire to provide as truthful a digest each week as I can. I wrote extensively on this in 2019. To read some of my digests: Part 1 click here. Part 2, here, Part 3, here and Part 4, here.
- Gamification of Death- On March 19th, a young Australian man used his Facebook account to stream a 17-minute video of himself opening fire inside a Christchurch mosque. At one point, he left the building and returned to his car for a new gun, before going back to the mosque and resuming the massacre. The shooter appeared to advertise the attack in advance, warning of a shooting on the far-right-friendly forum 8chan, and linking to the Facebook account and the so-called manifesto. There were 51 counts of murder and 40 counts of attempted murder. In less than six minutes the Australian killed 42 people who’d gathered to pray at Al Noor. Why is this significant? To begin with, the death of every human being is significant, especially in a hate-filled killing such as this one. But what separates this mass shooting from others is the way it was perpetrated. The young Australian man broadcast his shooting spree as if he was in a self-production of his own movie. He spoke of body counts as if keeping score. He gamified killing other human beings. We have not seen the last of this phenomenon. To read my article on this, click here.
- Global movement of refugees continues to rise unabated- We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 70.8 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 25.9 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also millions of stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. We are living in a world where nearly one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution. There are no signs that this will slow down anytime soon.
10. NASA Announcement of Return to the Moon- It may surprise you that during their bid to understand space, NASA scientists have pioneered more than 6,300 technologies that are now routinely used each day. Some are: water purification technology, polymer fibers for fire-resistant clothing, breathing masks for fire-fighters and cordless technologies. Other technologies which found their development from NASA include:
- CAT scanner: This cancer-detecting technology was first used to find imperfections in space components.
- Computer microchip: Modern microchips descend from integrated circuits used in the Apollo Guidance Computer.
- Cordless tools: Power drills and vacuum cleaners use technology designed to drill for moon samples.
- Ear thermometer: A camera-like lens that detects infrared energy which we feel as heat was originally used to monitor the birth of stars.
- Freeze-dried food which reduces food weight and increases shelf life without sacrificing nutritional value.
- Insulation: home insulation uses reflective material that protects spacecraft from radiation.
- Invisible braces: Teeth-straightening is less embarrassing thanks to transparent ceramic brace brackets made from spacecraft materials.
- Joystick: This computer gaming device was first used on the Apollo Lunar Rover.
- Memory foam: Created for aircraft seats to soften landing, this foam, which returns to its original shape, is found in mattresses and shock absorbing helmets.
- Satellite television: Technology used to fix errors in spacecraft signals helps reduce scrambled pictures and sound in satellite television signals.
- Scratch resistant lenses: Astronaut helmet visor coating makes our spectacles ten times more scratch resistant.
- Shoe insoles: Athletic shoe companies adapted space boot designs to lessen impact by adding spring and ventilation.
- Smoke detector: Nasa invented the first adjustable smoke detector with sensitivity levels to prevent false alarms.
- Swimsuit: Nasa used the same principles that reduce drag in space to help create the world’s fastest swimsuit for Speedo, rejected by some professionals for giving an unfair advantage.
- Water filter: Domestic versions borrow a technique Nasa pioneered to kill bacteria in water taken into space.
One can only begin to imagine the technologies which will emerge from this next Space Program.
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” (George Santayana) -I might add that many who do learn history fail, and repeat it. We are however, much more likely to repeat previous mistakes if we don’t know about them. As Christians, it is imperative, especially in these days that we learn how our forefathers failed. If we do not, we are likely to make the same mistakes, mistakes which have led to the suffering and death of millions. “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)
I cannot over-stress the importance of staying aware of what is happening around you, around your country and around the world.
Leaders are readers. I assure you that as you enter into this new decade, you will run the risk of becoming like sheep (just ignorantly following whatever is in front of you) if you do not develop the discipline of reading in order to stay abreast of the happenings near you and around the world.
Get involved. I used to think that people have to care before they will get involved. I have since learned that involved people care; not until then actually.
Join a movement. Frederick Buechner once said, “Purpose is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” There are millions of people in the world who suffer from a deep hunger, physically and spiritually. As we start a new decade, my question is, “Who will satisfy that deep hunger?” How easy it is to point a finger at the other guy. Begin by becoming informed. Read, study and learn all you can about how human beings in the world are really struggling. Join with others to help them.
Start a movement. Once you become aware of the critical needs of certain people, and have seen how others are responding to them, you will discover about what or who you are most passionate. Some are passionate about children; others care deeply about the needs of women; others faithfully serve the poor. Perhaps you are most concerned about the deaf or blind, or about young people or for those who have been wounded. The needs of people here and all over the world are so great that you will most assuredly find a place to make a difference.
Change the world. Do not be content to just watch from the sidelines or send someone in your place. There is something you can do. It may be to pray. It may be to give or it may be to go. Do something. I am certain that when you do, you will discover the deep joy that only comes when you find yourself fulfilling the purposes for which you were created.
Make 2020 an amazing year! If you want some help discovering how you can learn about your calling and passions you are welcome to write to me. We will work through it together. email@example.com
The Synagogue Killing in NYC…https://www.thedailybeast.com/multiple-victims-reported-in-stabbing-attack-near-new-york-synagogue
For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org