Monday. 3/1/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Christopher Cermak

Force quit

Job recruiters in the UK refer to today as “Massive Monday”. The reason is that January is the month that many of us – one in five according to studies – appear ready to throw in the towel and start looking for something new. Maybe it’s a new year’s resolution or perhaps just the thought of going back to work after the holidays is enough to make us scream, “I quit” – and mean it this time.

I wonder whether this month will be the same, since so many have already got it out of their systems: 2021 was, of course, known as the Great Resignation, driven by a mix of people seeking a greater work-life balance, leveraging labour shortages to get better positions and seeking something more fulfilling. That’s all well and good – the pandemic has helped a lot of workers realise what’s important in life – but a note of caution: am I the only one who has previously left a job, only to find that my new position wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?

The pandemic has been hard on all of us but it also warped our sense of the ideal. If 2021 is known as the Great Resignation, perhaps 2022, for some, will quietly become the Great Regret. For all the stories of people leaving jobs, striking out on their own or finding happiness away from the city on paradise island, how many are out there wishing that they could hit the return button. As we enter the new year, it’s worth stepping back before taking the knee-jerk plunge into something new. Maybe we’ll fall back in love with the job we have if only we allow ourselves to adjust to the new normal. Take some time to think about it; there’s no reason you can’t quit in February instead.

Image: Alamy

Diplomacy / Afghanistan

Post war

Just as technological innovations have changed the world of warfare, peace brokers such as Finland’s Crisis Management Initiative, which was launched by former president and Nobel peace prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, are increasingly focused online as well. “There are many lessons to be learned from Afghanistan. I would argue that it was the narratives and powerful images shared on social media that made Kabul fall to the Taliban – not weapons,” Janne Taalas, CMI’s CEO, tells Monocle. “When they saw images of Bagram airport and Kandahar in the hands of Taliban forces, what was the point of fighting? This is one challenge: conflicts of course still take place on the ground but we also have to deal with the digital space.” The other hurdles? While 2022 looks set to bring more work for independent peace brokers such as CMI, Taalas fears that international organisations will continue to suffer from a lack of resources – and their inability to agree on the right course of action in a changing world.

Listen to the full interview with CMI’s Janne Taalas on today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Reuters/Wana News Agency

Energy / EU

Pressurised reaction

Germany and the European Commission are on a collision course, after a proposal emerged over the weekend that would allow EU member states to consider nuclear power a “sustainable” source of energy over the next 25 years. The document is part of a “green deal” that charts a course for EU members to phase out fossil fuels and become climate-neutral by 2050. It favours nations such as France and Belgium that are betting on nuclear energy as a carbon-free source and funding a new generation of reactors. Germany by contrast considers nuclear unsafe: it just decommissioned three of its six nuclear power plants and will shutter the remainder by the end of this year, completing a phase-out started in 2011 following the Fukushima disaster.

The country’s climate and economy minister Robert Habeck accused the Commission of “deception” and wants the EU executive to steer investment into more bona fide renewable sources such as wind, solar and green hydrogen. With a number of EU nations backing France, this is one fight that Germany appears unlikely to win. Each country must weigh its own risks but shifting to a carbon-free economy is hard enough without abandoning such transitional sources as nuclear energy.

Image: Shutterstock

Society / UK

Reign check

This year, Queen Elizabeth II could become the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum jubilee, the milestone for 70 years of service since her accession to the throne on 6 February 1952. It comes after a difficult year following the death of her husband Prince Philip in April 2021 and her own health scares towards the end of last year. Extravagant plans to mark the event this spring include a four-day celebration in the UK and a live concert at Buckingham Palace. For the first time, ceremonial bonfires will also be lit in every capital city in the Commonwealth. That includes Bridgetown in Barbados, which chose to ditch the monarch as its sovereign and become a republic in November but remains a member of the Commonwealth. There are rumblings that others, such as Jamaica, might follow suit in removing Elizabeth II as head of state. While this year Buckingham Palace might be celebrating her unprecedented governance, elsewhere in the world it is a time of reckoning as other countries contemplate the relevance of their historic ties with the UK.

Image: Casey Kelbaugh/Frieze

Arts / USA

Pure exhibitionism

As art fairs go, Frieze Los Angeles tends to feel like more of a funfair than most. Previous editions turned collectors and curious visitors loose on Paramount Studios’ backlot, a whole New York set complete with faux brownstones that played host to installations and artworks. Coronavirus scuppered events during Frieze’s 30th anniversary last year but it returns from the hiatus in February with a new director, Christine Messineo, and more than 100 galleries in tow, 29 of which are Los Angeles-based; they include LA first-timers In Lieu and Stars. Sadly, the backlog of actual filming to be done in the studios have ushered the fair to seek out new digs: the result is a purpose-built space adjacent to the Beverly Hilton hotel, designed in part by landscape architect Mark Thomann of Why Architecture, who says that it will be “benignly invasive to Beverly Hills’ lush garden legacy”.

M24 / The Menu

Best of ‘Food Neighbourhoods’ 2021

Monocle’s Markus Hippi picks his favourite recipes from the programme in 2021.

Monocle Films / Global

Media on the move

We visit two bold companies finding canny ways to pivot their product for changing audiences. Transhelvetica, a Swiss magazine, and Spiritland, a London-based hospitality and audio venture, are each shaping the media landscape for the better.

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