The year that was: Looking for satisfaction, inner peace and happiness in life

(Shifting mindsets, shifting practice)

(Shifting mindsets, shifting practice)

By Dr. Hassan Humeida
KIEL, Germany


Pondering over the major impressions in 2021 is truly challenging. Challenging because I am trying to sort, solve, and find my own satisfaction, inner peace and happiness between my interests and and those of the community.

The challenge is compounded when events happen unexpectedly and a person has to deal with facts that are not easy at all.

The year 2021 was bad for me and my family. I lost both my parents due to the ongoing corona pandemic. My mother died on April 4 and my father on April 19.

Both left quickly and within two weeks of each other. Sadly, I was not at home with them to pray over their bodies and pay my respects. I lost two people who were very close to me and who have had a positive impact on my life. Two people who lovingly raised me with my siblings and helped shape our characters. I learned a lot of positive things from them. I learned love and sincerity both and much, much more.


I heard about the death of my beloved father seven hours before the start of the second day of the event that brings us every year together – The World Journalists Conference.

It was one of the hardest moments of my life, especially that it happened just a few days after I lost my beloved mother. The colleagues at the conference who found out about the tragic news contacted me and expressed their condolences. They kindly asked me in private if I could speak today? They told me that it would not be a problem at all if I canceled my speech because of my current situation.

At that moment I had to think deeply and weigh up: should I decide for myself as an individual or should I decide for the community as a whole? It would be easier for me to apologize and say “unfortunately I can’t”. A logical decision made at such painful times, “Unfortunately, I can’t because I’m so sad and I can’t speak any more”. can be understood by everyone.


Time is of the essence and a decision should be made quickly so that the two-day event can find its way in the second round. At that moment I thought of my parents, of the values that they had instilled in me over the years shaping my life. I figured neither father nor mother would be proud if they found out that I would be retreat from important events, planned weeks, if not months, in advance.

If I decide for myself as an individual and leave the community waiting or even leave it, if I abandon everyone, I will not change anything. My parents have gone and they will not come back. I am terribly sad and I cannot get them back.

Deep inside, I knew that that my parents cannot understand that all speeches by the WJC speakers are taking place and only my speech is missing. Then I felt at this moment incredible energy flow over my whole body.

I thought, “It would be an insult to my parents if I failed them, failed to rise up to the significance of the conference failed to honor the my commitments.

Precisely because all colleagues, interested people, ministers and even the prime minister of the country are eagerly awaiting our speeches. I had to really pull myself together and get ready at the moment, just as my name was called.


At that moment my father’s name shone in the horizon. I saw him, I saw my mother in front of me too. Both were very proud and happy that “I am going to make it happen”. I had to suppress the tears that were filling my eyes and present a strong and resilient face to the audience physically present in Korea or following the conference virtually on their laptops, desk computers, tablets or mobiles.

I just had to look at the screen and focus fully on the audience. My speech was expected to last five minutes. The five minutes were over quickly, and I did my job “the speech” and honored my obligation to those who had faith in me.

Once the speech was over, I switched off my camera and the microphone. I needed a private moment so that I could let my emotions out again. Now, I could grieve over my lost parents. My parents were in Sudan and I was in Germany and whom I could not touch or even see thousands of kilometers away from me. My eyes were filled with hot, burning tears that rolled down my face.

I have experienced pain before, both physical and emotional. But nothing compares to that of losing your parents within two weeks and not being there with them, for them. It was an excoriating moment and I let out all the tears that I had tried to keep inside. I needed to get my bottled feelings out. It was the least I could do.

After a few minutes, I regained my composure and switched the camera and microphone on to follow the speeches, statements and comments of the World Journalists Conference.

My message to everyone is while it is perfectly human to feel and express emotions, we always need, even at the most challenging times, to make sure that the interests of the community should take precedence over personal interests and that “we“ always come before “ I ”.


I referred to what happened to me as we all shared the World Journalists Conference as a major milestone for us members of the AJA community because I believe we should learn to put the benefit of the community ahead our own benefits – even during difficult times. We need to always try to make what seems for us impossible possible.

It is certainly clear that we as humans tend to put our own interests in the foreground and enforce ourselves to achieve them with all our might.

We are used to choosing the best for ourselves, especially in uncertain situations and emergencies. But we tend to forget the people around us who are in need, who need a smiling face, comforting words, a pushing hand…

Getting older has its advantages, after all. The older we become, the easier for us it is to detach ourselves from material things and their negative effects.

With age, however, different behaviors develop, especially when people see that the end of a long journey in life is inexorably nearing. People are better prepared and more eager to share happiness and joy with others.


Sharing is the secret of contentment, inner peace and happiness in life. It makes no sense to bet on things, objects and possessions that are not needed. We live in a time when the majority of people chase luxury goods and expensive possessions. The day comes when they turn back and find that all the chasing efforts have been in vain. Especially when they find that they have everything but no luck in life. Achieving self-satisfaction and seeing other people satisfied are the sure way to find inner peace and true happiness. We should learn to think, act and make decisions that are based on the sense of the community.


We are now at the end of the year, a time for festive days and joyful moods.

There is Christmas, of course, but also the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022. A New Year!

This is a time when the eagerness for news, changes and novelties is growing. At the same time. consumption and waste also increase exponentially where the people and countries are richer and consume much more.

How many objects do we humans need in order to live, exist and be happy? How many firecrackers do we have to fire into the air so that we can feel we are modern people and achieve inner peace? How many millions are buried in the sand in order to fulfill wishes?

Recently, unnecessary space missions have been launched by private companies. All that money would have been better used to feed hungry mouths, fix broken hearts, replace severed limbs, provide education for young minds, cure the sick, care for the needy, put smiles on innocent faces, wipe tears off pained people …


As a backdrop to the global situation in 2021 and until the end of it, many human problems will take shape on earth.

A grave challenge that needs prompt and serious solutions is global climate change.

Climate change and global warming are real threat to our nature, plants, animals and people. They lead to the exploitation of resources, land grabbing and destruction of the layers of the earth in many regions and especially in the poorest countries.

Other grave menaces are contamination of soils and oceans air – and environmental pollution, human destruction through neglect of human and productive labor, internal conflicts in many countries and wars with neighboring and faraway countries, struggle for resources, especially water and food and struggle for soil to secure the future for our own country at the expense of other weak countries.

Other threats are forest and bush fires, floods and cyclones, spreading oppression and displacement of peoples, and the accumulation of poverty, hunger, disease in more than one region on earth. Migrating from affected and poor areas to rich countries, organ and human trafficking to cover the cost of the trip, the mass deaths of young emigrants through abuse, death in deserts or drowning in seas.


If we look at the unequal distribution of goods, including water and food in the rich industrial nations, we find a surplus in all things, irresponsible and excessive behavior in consumption, high mountains of waste, the missions into space that are unnecessary and with money from people from the earth to experience exciting things.

The goals of the agro-corporations to lay hands on consumers through unfair trade of their products and to get their money, but also to achieve more destruction of biodiversity in the nature.

Consumers’ tendency in rich countries is to own more luxury goods, but also to own land, while many families are looking for suitable accommodation. They encourage arms trade and the exploitation of poor countries for their own purposes, so that the others fight one another while they maintain the existing luxury for their own peoples.

In summary, unfortunately not much has changed since the old days of colonization. Today, it is the same situation, but under glorious sounding terms such as globalization, new century …


Let’s think globally and come to our “Global moment for one planet”. It makes absolutely no sense that only private households care about problems related to nature and the environment, while companies and industry continue to produce and destroy them.

There is the massive production of various electrical devices such as cell phones, tablets, computers etc. If these fail minimally in their function or are no longer supported by the company’s own systems such as “Android”, the devices end up as electrical waste in the trash and aggressive production continues.

Marketers and manufacturers have what they see as a gold recommendation to customers: Repairing your device is no longer worthwhile, and it is best to buy a new product. It is also cheaper.

The money is drawn out of the customer’s pocket and the consumer is thus automatically made dependent on companies. It would be better, for example, if the companies were obliged to take back their inoperable products, recycle them and pay back half the price to the customers. This is the only way we can talk about sustainability and innovative progress when there is social justice.

It gets worse when activists and journalists risk their lives to protect the environment and nature. Not only companies, but also governments make life hell for those who work to uncover certain facts. Many, in their fight against deforestation and land grabbing in poor countries, have lost their lives to planned contract killing.


During the corona pandemic, huge fissures have emerged in commitments to social justice, pushing the fight against poverty and hunger to the back. More and more people are getting poorer and more desperate. The industrialized countries are very engaged in taking care of their own citizens and the rest of the citizens of the poor world have been made to wait.

The fact is that the virus keeps appearing under mutated variants – a cross-continental pandemic that knows no national borders. The duty to look after poor countries also applies here.

The pandemic is spreading faster and no one can predict when and where its end draws near. All over the world, many people die lonely and without the presence of their close relatives and friends. Many people are lonely and desperate right now in their homes and in many countries, people are killing themselves because they cannot cope with the current terrible situation, some due to personal or professional failure, others to limitations in everyday life that leave nothing much for good life.

Many teenagers who feel lonely and isolated in their societies during important and sensible stages of life are severely affected by the risk of suicide. The perceived value in times of the pandemic is that life tastes and feels different. Idleness and passivity do not help; only when people, families, friends, neighbors, relatives, colleagues stick together during this difficult time that hope emerges and light appears at the end.


I do not want here to pretend that I‘m a holy person: I am just a normal person who makes discoveries as I grow older and learns everyday something new about life.

I am instructing people how to think, act or live, but I do allow myself, as a human, a friend and a colleague, to share views, ideas and insights.

Those who can provide support should be generous and give something to people who have no support. And, unfortunately, there are many people who do need support.

Our obligation from a social and human point of view is that we should think of these people and not leave anyone behind. With the hope that this difficult time will pass quickly, as my speech at the WJC did, and that we will confront the virus successfully, we will move forward together.

Later, when we are past the pandemic, we can recall these time and events and each of us can proudly say: It was a difficult and challenging time, I acted in the interests of the community, did my best and I am very satisfied and happy with what I did. Now, life can go on, for others and for me as well.

Dr. Hassan Humeida

Dr. Hassan Humeida






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