Saturday, January 29, 2011


As soon as a new year begins, suddenly it can feel as though the world is once again opening up. Budget cuts, careful management of the bottom line both at home and in the workplace, were events of 2010. With a new year has come a new freedom to think bigger, think wider, think more feel, especially as economic crisis of 2008/9 (with its hangover in 2010) is now past.

And so the question arises: how will we see the world in 2011?

On the surface that question prompts an answer of travel to places one dreams of visiting on holiday. Or places to explore for new business opportunities. Thoughts turn to planning the where/when/why/with whom.

The year 2011 is, however, already proving to be about more than that. How we see the world is not about plotting itineraries. It is actually about pausing to look closer, look deeper. Because the world which we have always known is changing, dramatically, ever second of every day, everywhere.

Even in places we thought would always stay the same, because they always have, and there seemed no reason for that to change.

At this very moment the streets of Cairo are filling with protesters demanding a future of freedom, fairness, liberation and life deserved. An echo of events in Tunisia just over a week ago, Cairo may also be the precursor of events elsewhere in the Arab world, where the ground feels like it is shaking. Revolution is turning from noun to verb. In Egypt, in a matter of days a 30 year + government has been shaken at its foundations. The DNA of a nation, and region, is changing, politically, economically, spiritually.

And with it, the way we see the world is changing.

At the same time the nation of South Africa has had its foundations rocked with news of the hospitalisation of President Mandela, "Madiba", "Tata". The father of the nation, now 92 years of age, was officially unwell. Across the country over fourty nine million South Africans, along with the rest of the watching world, held their breath and whispered prayers for more time. South Africa and the world were not ready to face the future without the leader of their hearts, their conscience, and their belief in miracles. Thankfully the President left the hospital, mercy allowing him more time. Still, a foreshadow of the imminent new reality was felt. The way South Africans would have to see tomorrow, and see the world, without their beloved Madiba, was changing.

And in Davos, as the leaders of the world's economies and corporate ambitions gather for the 2011 World Economic Forum, together they work to understand and navigate the "New Reality". The past three years have shaken the foundations of how we see the world as a place of power, place of presumed security, and presumed financial comfort. But the way we see the world has changed. Profoundly.

With that change has come a shift in where we now look to for inspiration. As shared with CNN's Richard Quest in an intimate one-on-one interview in Davos, Klaus Schwab, founder of the WEF confesses that the speakers he is most looking forward to hearing from are "the religious leaders whom we have here, not necessarily the politicians. Because if you want to get inspired I think it has to be based on a kind of change of values, (sic), and we need a kind of reform of our classical approach to what we have responsibilities for."

The way we see the world in 2011, and beyond, is not about where we travel, where we visit. It is not about stories we share about what we have seen.

Instead it is about where we stand, here and now, and how we look at the world differently. The difference is not just in how the world around us reshapes. But how we open our eyes, and minds, and hearts to look at the same sight with different meaning. It may be with greater compassion. It may be with greater understanding. It may be with greater curiosity.

Whatever it is, it is in our hands. And in our eyes.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2011