by Terence Jeyaretnam

This time last year, I wrote a parable titled 2012, which centered on hope as 2012 dawned on us. The 2012 phenomenon comprises a range of eschatological beliefs according to which cataclysmic or transformative events were to occur on December 21, 2012. This date was regarded as the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. A New Age interpretation of this transition is that this date marks the start of time in which Earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era.

This time we see 2013 from the eyes of the poor couple, who had just had a child last year. Jasmine is turning one in two days, and Emma and Ethan are planning her first birthday celebrations. “It’s been a very busy year – so busy that I haven’t even had a chance to stop to think!”, Emma says in a tired voice. “You’ve just had to think about one person, Jasmine, all year, and to think she is already walking!” Ethan responded. “It’s been such hard work, but such an amazing year and while we still just manage financially, it feels like we have achieved so much”, added Emma.

2012 – a year when the ripples of the global financial crises continued to persist, power shifts in the middle east became the new norm, inaction on global crises became even more grounded, and uncertainty became certain. Emma and Ethan did not have full-time jobs during the year, and so survived in various contract roles and fill-in jobs. They frequented seconds and op-shops for necessary clothing and home ware purchases. From time-to-time, they relied on support by non-profit organisations. They also co-share and work on a community garden where they gather vegetables and fruit.

On the way to the community garden, Emma was pondering the big questions about life. “Wonder what the meaning of our presence here is?” she said “what are we doing here?”. “All of what this year has ordered us has also made me wonder” said Ethan as they entered the vegetable patch, “and I think I know”. “Look at that tomato plant I planted, bearing fruit. It has a core purpose, which is to live, thrive and produce fruit, for others to enjoy – and thereby propagate. Every living being on this planet also has a core purpose. The problem with us as humans is that we have lost touch with what that is. We talk about the big companies losing touch with their soul, but that’s because the people who work for them have forgotten their own purpose. Like the tomato plant, we need to understand and pursue our own purpose – and it’s certainly not to do things like make money or buy things”, said Ethan. “That’s very true”, said Emma, “not having enough money shows you how unimportant it is. If every being contributes in some way to the circle of life, our contribution must be to help make this place we live in a better place, and help those who live with us have a better life”. “I can see that we will one day sit down and explain the day we found the meaning of life, and what that meant to how we brought Jasmine up”, said Ethan “like the tomato plant – living, thriving, giving and enjoying”.

Perhaps 2013 will be the year that people, communities and organisations will all re-discover their purpose, and by which they will undergo a physical or spiritual transformation, marking the beginning of a new era. God turned to Eli and smiled.

Terence Jeyaretnam is a Director of Net Balance (terence@netbalance.com), 
one of the world’s leading sustainability advisory firms.
Terence is based in Melbourne.