So… I originally had this idea to do a 2016 retrospective timeline, highlighting the tiny bit of good and the ridiculously huge amount of bad. But there was so much that this would have had to have been a multi-post series, and I don’t feel like doing that. Then I thought that I would just highlight the major events in politics and deaths, and devote some time to the US’s racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, murderous police force. But even that turns out to be more of a daunting task then I’m willing to take on.
So, instead, I’m going to share some thoughts, some links, a book for you to read, and a video that many of you probably already saw, but I want to share again, anyways. Sadly, I’m afraid I won’t be able to end this post with hope. While I am a cynic first and foremost, I’ve always worked hard to balance that out with optimism, always deliberately assuming that a human being I meet for the first time is fundamentally good (before they inevitably prove me wrong). I hate being a downer, and I really hate bringing other people down with me.
I will inject a tad bit of reality into this first. While I will grant that 2016 has been one of the worst years I can remember in my short 29 years, 7 months, 1 week, and 4 days of life, in reality, the past has seen many years that could be considered “worse”. This article in the New York Times goes all the way back to… Adam and Eve? I mean… they didn’t exist, so… but once you get past that, it does highlight just how shitty the past has also been. The Washington Post also does a roundup of our terrible history here, and Buzzfeed calls bullshit on five of the reasons 2016 has been called “The Worst. Year. Ever.”
So is that it? With the benefit of historical context, can we all breathe a sigh of relief and relax, seeing 2016 as not, actually, that bad?
If you’re expecting me to say “yes”, then you don’t know me very well.
The answer is obviously “no”.
Sure, there are always bad years. And yeah, famous and beloved people die every year. That’s a consequence of human mortality. It happens. No one lives forever. And why would you want to, anyways? I mean… sure… I want to live long enough to be able to visit Mars as a tourist (or maybe even move there, because fuck humanity), but live forever?
I’m happy to die eventually, as long as it’s of old age (I’m not at all afraid of death, just of dying “before my time”, which basically means “before I complete my full bucket list”).
But that’s not on topic.
The reality is, even with the benefit of historical context, 2016 still sucks.
Black Lives Matter still has to be said. Here in the US, black people, and other people of color (Native Americans, as an example), are still being murdered by our racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, murderous police force. Brexit happened this year, as did the actual, real-life election of Donald Trump as president of the US, which was immediately followed up by a historic rise in hate crimes. We had an outbreak of the Zika virus, which, while not deadly, did suck. This year saw more high-profile terrorist attacks and rather terrifying international incidents. Global Warming has only gotten worse, as well. And then there’s the Flint Water Crisis and Standing Rock (y’all should have been reading Caine’s constant updates on that over at Affinity).
In fact, 2016 has been bad enough that a book was put together called “F*ck You, 2016“. I own it, and you should, too.
Jon Oliver even had a fantastic send-off for 2016:
So what do we have to look forward to in 2017 and beyond?
The reality is, what happened in 2016 is not contained to 2016. Now we have to suffer the consequences of the choices we’ve made. Now we have to face the reality of not having those we’ve lost. 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2030, 2040… the future is not shaping up to look bright. Honestly, for me, it looks kind of terrifying.
The worst, for me, is not actually Brexit and Trump, because those things can be changed. Those things we can fight, and, maybe, even fix. The resurgence of white nationalism across the planet is a human problem, and as such, actually has solutions if we’re willing to fight it. We can tear down patriarchal white supremacy if we’re willing to continue hacking away at the foundation. We can even, maybe, avoid a third world war (although I’m feeling less and less optimistic about that as time marches on).
The worst for me, from a global perspective, is global warming. I think we reached the point a few years ago where it became irreversible, and we began fighting just to keep it from getting worse. But now, under Trump, the US is poised to completely ignore climate change, continuing to drill for and burn fossil fuels, and basically just reject alternative, sustainable energy sources. So now, unless something major happens, and soon, it looks to me like we can’t stop global warming from getting worse, and all we can do is hunker down and get ready for the consequences of that… and they won’t be fun.
I wish I could start 2017 with some optimism, but I’m not feeling it.
But maybe you disagree. Do you see any reasons for hope and optimism for 2017 and into the future? Let me know below and… for what it’s worth… happy new year.