What was the biggest event of 2013? Was it Nelson Mandela’s death, the destructive Typhoon Haiyan, or the installation of Pope Francis to the Papacy? Or was it something else?
In a year where the world’s population reached 7.198 billion, Gregorian Year MMXIII has revealed no less hype, drama and tragedy than we’re used to seeing. Perhaps in terms of enormity the following ten events can be considered (in reverse ‘countdown’ order of importance) the biggest, most memorable:
NUMBER TEN – Typhoon Haiyan
One of the strongest cyclones on record, this storm, and the damage it brought, was the biggest single weather event bringing mass devastation for the year. Thousands were killed (5,822 confirmed) and millions misplaced. It devastated portions of South-east Asia. Winds that topped 270kph (167mph or 75m/s) were officially recorded. This hurricane has broken a plethora of records. Its damage bill is $2.4 Billion (USD).
NUMBER NINE – Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage
There are now twenty countries that have recognised same-sex marriages, though many of these, like in the United States, only small portions, or States, have passed laws. Same-sex marriage is now a global discussion point and debate on its merits and problems is an agenda item for almost every country.
NUMBER EIGHT – National and World Information Security Leaks
2013 will be long remembered for several instances where leaked classified documents caused international embarrassment and local pressure.
NUMBER SEVEN – North Korea Situation
In February, North Korea conducts its third underground nuclear test and receives widespread condemnation. Of bigger concern to world leaders is the unpredictability of North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un.
NUMBER SIX – Pope Benedict XVI Resigns
The first Pope to resign from the Papal Office since Pope Gregory XII in 1415 (who was forced to, due to the Western Schism), and the first Pope to resign under his own initiative since 1294, Pope Benedict XVI resigns due to declining health and old age. The resignation process commenced on February 11 and concluded on February 28.
NUMBER FIVE – Developments in the Middle East
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is deposed by the military with Adly Mansour appointed interim president. Also, tensions and political unrest in Syria reach crisis point.
NUMBER FOUR – Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi is Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma, and the most prominent contemporary political prisoner in the world. She was released in 2010. Akin to Nelson Mandala – but in reverse (she was President in 1990 and was then under house arrest) – Aung San Suu Kyi stated in June that she will run for the 2015 Myanmar presidency in what is likely to be a massive regional development should she win and be allowed to govern.
NUMBER THREE – The Boston Marathon Bombing
Although there were relatively few fatalities and casualties, the scale of terrorism – to strike at the world’s oldest marathon event, and one of six ‘majors’ – defied belief, much the same as London (2005) and Bali (2002), but on a scale far less than September 11, 2001 in New York City. Three died and 264 were injured.
NUMBER TWO – Pope Francis takes Papacy
Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 266th Pope) becomes the first Pope to wash the feet of women in the Maundy Thursday service. Pope Francis seems to continue a more liberal and more compassionate stance from the Papacy than the traditional Roman Catholic Church might be remembered for.
NUMBER ONE – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s Death
The Twentieth century’s paragon for peace, unprecedented in the scale of both his personal suffering and global impact he made for good, died peacefully, aged 95. Twenty-seven years of hard imprisonment at Robben Island preceded his single-handed unification of a broken South Africa in the 1990s. Perhaps most enduring of ‘Madiba’s’ legacies, however, is his personification of grace; his unstinting forgiveness of his transgressors.