2018 was notable for the amount of news on education locally and nationally, about the plight of students, loans and other costs, and their qualification grades being altered, how many lectures they get.

The best way to qualify for any job is to actually do it, learn as you go, and let your qualification show in your abilities. It’s called apprenticeships – learn as you earn.

University is now an elite way of spending study time building up a debt which may never be repaid. Graduates believe they’ll get a good job that will help them repay their student loans and earn enough to save – and get a mortgage?

Mental health has become issue, said to be a growing problem in teaching establishments. Being young today means being over-governed, over-burdened with stress and social media, and apparently being unfit mentally and physically due to lifestyles.

Modern living is not character-building because humans, young and old, can rely on artificial intelligence, instant communications, photographic records, rolling 24-hour news, convenience food and comfortable life styles.

Even giving to charity is a way of ducking out of community life for many people.

Charities raising money for health research, homelessness, abuse, physical disabilities, animal welfare, life-saving and many other local and national causes rely on the generosity of those who care but can give only so much time and cash.

This is the age of volunteering and caring for family members and elderly in less than good health. But that’s only the basic foundation of modern society.

Each day, we get letters making us aware of the plight of those in foreign countries or fleeing from abusive regimes or facing starvation and destitution through floods and heat waves and human atrocities.

We must face facts: we have too much stuff (in modern parlance) and can’t share our good fortune to help those unfortunates abroad.

2019: Charity shops and food banks and rough sleepers on UK city streets; poor countries getting poorer; rich countries fight for power and wealth; politicians, local and national, lose sight of why they were elected to become paid public servants.

Waste is all around coupled with overwhelming plastic pollution.

Life has become too complicated to be simple, God-fearing and caring in a society now over-burdened with pain and suffering.

   Let’s remind ourselves:

What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.               

William H Davies

In 2020, let’s hope we have better vision for our world.

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