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Lessons learned from world events in 2018

Sabrina Almeida

With 2018 fading away, certain events this year that could have a positive impact on our lives came to mind. I’m not talking about catastrophes which tend to make us introspect and throw us into resolution mode… but rather those happenings which we may have applauded or cried about from a distance but didn’t expect to touch us personally. Here’s some that I believe could change the way we think and act.

Royal wedding: A lesson in diversity and tolerance
Millions watched the fairy-tale wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19. Some in Canada even woke up in the wee hours of the morning to witness the event. While their courtship and wedding plans held us captive, it was the royal acceptance of their diverse backgrounds and the manner in which it was showcased during the ceremony that really should have taken centre stage. After all the big news was that Meghan was biracial, divorced, American and a Hollywood actress!!! While the queen accepted her (Harry would have needed her permission much like any dutiful Indian offspring) not so much us South Asians, many of who couldn’t get passed the fact that she was previously married or of African-American heritage and now royalty.

#MeToo India: It is time women spoke up
Thanks to Tanushree Dutta, the silence on sexual harassment in the Indian film industry has finally been broken. A workplace with predators is common place in a country where being a woman makes you fair game. It’s not so much about who got caught when the floodgates opened but more importantly that Indian girls and women finally found their voices. While many of the big names might cry foul and several others might cast aspersions on the women who kept a lid on their suffering for so many years, all men have been put on notice. And it’s about time!!!

Succession to the British throne not gender-based: A victory for gender equality
This is good news for Princess Charlotte, even through Prince George has first dibs after their father Prince William. As per the succession act of 2013, which was applicable to royals born after October 28, 2011, Charlotte is the first princess who will not be overtaken in the lineup by younger brother Louis. His birth on April 23 this year marked the first time the new rule came into play. If only Indian families can now learn to treat their sons and daughters equally too.

India decriminalizes homosexuality: Being different is not criminal anymore
In a landmark ruling this September, the Indian Supreme Court declared that consensual gay sex is no longer a criminal offence. However public jubilation in India’s big cities was met with strong condemnation by religious groups and conservative rural societies. While some gay men and women took the opportunity to come out in the open, many are still closeted for the fear of backlash from their families and social circle. Much of the South Asian community’s opposition to the 2015 Ontario sex-ed curriculum stems from our bias and intolerance of any kind of difference. Be it out of ignorance or fear. The fact is that our children who are living with the new realities must learn how to deal with them, but not from their prejudiced parents.

Jamal Khashoggi’s murder: Things are not always what they seem
For a little while the world really believed that Saudi Arabia was modernizing. After all, women were being allowed to drive and the first cinema halls opened too. But Khashoggi’s murder, that too on foreign soil, exposed the cosmetic makeover and lengths to which the totalitarian regime will go to silence any opposition. That the moral police of the world, America, once again hesitated to admonish their close allies reiterated that politics and economics triumph over any sort of moral code.

Gene-edited babies: Where is science going to lead us?
A woman giving birth to a baby after she received a uterus transplant opened up a whole new possibility in fertility treatments. However, He Jiankui’s gene-edited babies raised troubling questions of where science is going to lead us. His experiment in which two baby girls were born having had a gene for HIV altered by CRISPR-Cas9 editing has been labelled “deeply disturbing” and “reckless”. While the world’s scientific experts were concerned about him leapfrogging safety concerns in genetic engineering, perhaps we should also think about its potential uses like creating superhumans and what limits we should place on it.

Priyanka Chopra marries Nick Jonas: It’s all about the colour
Cut took down the controversial article and Mariah Smith apologized to PeeCee for her hurtful words. But the rest of us were relentless in our adulation and more so in our criticism. That she was 10 years older might not have made much news if she was Caucasian, or he was ‘brown’ for that matter. What’s worse is that many Indians attacked Priyanka simply because she was from their home country branding her as whitewashed and an opportunist. But one friend rightly questioned what made Jonas so special. In her opinion, Priyanka could have done so much better. I’m inclined to agree.

As we close the book on 2018, let’s take off our blinkers, put aside our prejudices and embrace the new year with an open mind! -CINEWS

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