The world saw a peaceful transition to 2019 last Tuesday, with fireworks lighting up the night skies in many cities as midnight ended the old year. The Line Islands south of Hawaii
along with the eastern tip of Russia’s Siberia were the first to greet 2019, lying just west of the International Date Line.
As the world turned, the start of the new year fell in succession on New Zealand and Australia, on Japan and Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia, on Mongolia, China, and Southeast Asia. Then it was the turn of India and the Middle East to celebrate, followed by Europe and Africa, and finally South and Central America, Canada, and United States.
The loudest and brightest fireworks went up over Australia, France, United Kingdom, and the US, their various cities carrying on the tradition of big crowds gathering around their iconic sites and structures as the new year began. There were fears of terrorist attacks but the global celebration was generally peaceful.
Nearly a week has now passed since the new year began and there is a general atmosphere of hope in the world today. In his message for the new year, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the world continues to face many problems, among them worsening climate change, record numbers of migrants seeking safety and protection, continuing inequality within and between nations. “But there are also reasons for hope,” he said, citing peace talks in Yemen and in the South Sudan, the new international agreement on climate change at Katowice, Poland, and other agreements on migration and refugees.
Another global leader, Pope Francis, appealed for unity within the Church which observed January 1 as World Day of Peace. But he also appealed to everyone in the world, not just political leaders, to do his part in the service of peace. “And that begins at home in the family,” he said.
Our own President Duterte had a message of hope for Filipinos. He said the country continues to face “the ills of drugs, criminality, and corruption.” But, he said, “I have no doubt that with our patriotic fervor and our solidarity as a people, we can overcome the challenges that impede our march towards a more prosperous and progressive future.”
We have had a truly peaceful beginning for the new year around the world, raising the spirit of many nations, including our own. We join in this universal hope for peace for there is so much we need to accomplish for our people in this New Year 2019.