Editor’s Note: A Push Forward Into 2019

bdnews24 desk
Published : 22 March 2019, 12:35 PM
Updated : 22 March 2019, 12:35 PM

Editor's Note:
Serge Schmemann
© 2018 The New York Times
Distributed by The New York Times Licensing Group

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, taught Newton, and if what is true for physics is also true for life, then 2019 may be the year that the onslaught of populist demagogues runs up against a reaction of cooperation, tolerance, honesty and simple human decency.

In the end, decency is at the core of good governance and an equitable society, and 2018 has seen evidence of a swelling reaction against the cynicism, lies and hypocrisy of leaders who have systematically fanned fears, prejudice and hatreds to amass power.

The revulsion at dividing refugee families; the #MeToo movement's reckoning over sexual misconduct; the mounting pressure on tech giants to safeguard personal data and cleanse their social networks of propaganda, hatred and fake news; the midterm elections in the United States; these and other events and trends raised a glimmer of hope that the decent majority — and it is the majority — is trying to pull the world back from the slough of despond into which it seemed to be sinking.

The collection of essays in Turning Points looks forward in many directions: Maggie Shen King imagines a data-driven dystopia in which 87 million Facebook records are being auctioned; Balkrishna Doshi likens sustainable cities to forests; Venus Williams writes of the empowerment equation; Hyeonseo Lee describes the anguish of Korea's division; other writers explore other avenues on which our sins and virtues may lead us.

To think that we will find a better direction may be wishful thinking. But when we look at what might be the fateful twists and turns of the coming years, what we call turning points, we have to hope that the evils and failures we have endured will find an equal and opposite reaction, and that people will make the right turn. As Gerry Adams explains in his article, when governments put decency and the rights of their people at the forefront, democracy is sure to follow. And when they fail, there is always the balm of Patrick Chappatte's humor.

(Serge Schmemann is a member of the editorial board of The New York Times.)

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher