Many of the world's citizens will be hoping for a better new year. It's difficult to remember the past year without angst about the direction of our global community.

While the peak of the Pandemic has passed for most nations, it continues to disrupt societies and economies. China is experiencing a nationwide Covid onslaught for the first time with ripples that will affect the lives of those in China as well as the rest of the world.

With the inflation genie out of the bottle, we are experiencing the economic consequences of that evil war in Europe and the Covid legacy, which is threatening economic prosperity and causing real cost-of-living pressures across the globe.

Climate change is the main issue. If we want to protect our planet from unsustainable temperature rises, we need to be running.

It has been the year of the tyrants, with the erosion of liberal democratic values posing a greater threat to the freedom of so many around the globe.

Democracy has been on the retreat for a long time. The actions of Putin's Russia, the ambitions of President Xi of China, and the craziness that has entered US politics have all highlighted the threats democracy faces.

Democracy and freedom have been tracked by Freedom House for decades. It found that freedom had gone backwards in 60 nations and only improved in 25. Only 20% of the world's population lives in countries that are considered free. Almost twice as many people live in countries that are labeled as not free as in countries that are.

In nations that have long ignored the rights of their citizens, we see this writ large in places like Hong Kong and Afghanistan.

How do we find hope in a world like this? I'm pretty sure we can.

A few weeks ago, I attended a talk by a political commentator. The type of challenges faced by humanity was listed by him. He was asked at the end of his speech if there was any good news. In a world like this, we must strive to find happiness in our own lives.

We may have come to better appreciate our own personal relationships and families during the Pandemic as a result of this. It is not easy to tell a person sitting in a shelter in Kyiv how they will pay their power bills or a woman in Afghanistan how they will pay their electricity bills.

Hope is found in the actions of individuals who are showing the best of humanity and the courage to fight for a better future. The heart of democratic liberalism is the potential of individuals to change the world.

Robert Kennedy gave a speech at the University of Capetown in 1966 that was one of the best speeches of the modern era. He gave solace and encouragement to the students. He spoke.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

He told the students that they should give him a place to stand and that he would move the world.

The citizens of Ukraine led by their president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, stand against tyrants. Those who were prepared to risk their lives for the sake of protesting on the streets of China, or those in Iran, or female students in Afghanistan.

The coalescence of democratic nations is one of the positive trends of the last year.

We can find hope in those who are working to find solutions to climate change or disease, just as we can find hope in those who are fighting against injustice.

I am amazed at what they are achieving, from new vaccines and gene therapies to treat cancers, to better ways of reducing emissions, and the scientists who showed we may even be able to divert life threatening asteroids from their trajectory.

We are in the midst of heroes, and that gives me hope for the future.

  • Trent was a federal member for NorthSydney.