Yesterday was 'de-Christmas the house day'. Paul was at work and I was loading up the Christmas totes with decorations to put away for another 11 months. More than once I contemplated how much work was involved in this annual task. I was resting between 'decorations' and 'stripping the trees', enjoying some good reading (my newest obsession - the mysteries of Louise Penny) when I overheard the kids outside setting out the rules for a street hockey game:
'It's everyone for themselves'.
It struck me that this was a fine epitaph for 2016.
By most accounts 2016 was a bad year.
Fine, maybe it was no 1520, 1914 or 1943. There was no outbreak of smallpox, no start of a world war, no Holocaust at its most atrocious. We did not lose 1/3 of the world's population to the Black Death.
This year was a walk in a dewy meadow compared to 66 million years ago when the Chicxulub asteroid obliterated life around Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It was a warm breeze compared to 1348, 1837, 2001 and so many horror shows in between.
But based on any mood metric, based on the number of times we now sigh while skimming the news, this year sucked. It just sucked.
There were moments of good tidings in our lives - we got married, I got a new job (although the jury is still out on that being good or not LOL), we got a dream car, we had an awesome trip to New York, Bermuda, and Montreal . . . there was lots of laughter. All the same though, there was plenty of sadness and toil. I attended more funerals and funeral home visitations last year than I have in my life. There were plenty of times where we just hung on . . . hoping to get through whatever it was we were going through and make it to the other side. In fact, I think there were weeks on end where we lost sight of what 'normal' was.
I know personally that I had to fight like hell to find the time to attach myself to the things that bring me joy in life, that restore my balance.
So yes, 2016 sucked. we can argue all day about how badly it sucked and I am sure you can present to me all sorts of shining moments on a silver platter, lifting the lid to reveal something hopeful. I do believe that those 'ah' moments were greatly outnumbered by the moments of horror.
One of the things that strikes me is how we have lost the ability to see beyond our own basic needs. . . we have become a 6 month old baby. Our hunger, anger, hurt rules.
It really is everyone for themselves.
You knew I'd get there eventually. :-)
The world has become a mean, ugly, cynical, mistrustful place. Sure, this has been growing for some time but 2016 was where we saw the impact on the world stage. People in droves voted against positive change, a more humane global existence, peace, green prosperity, their kids and the future. A lot has been written about how people have been left behind by the economy - people are struggling. The greatest irony in this to me is that they rewarded the very people who created this suffering with strong political mandates and turned their backs across the planet on potential regimes who might be able to help them, who had tried for years to help them in the face of great political opposition.
There was a great article in the Washington Post the other day that compared our current geo-political climate to the time just before the outbreak of World War 1. We have unstable regimes, political alliances are frayed, nations are acting in an unpredictable manner, cooperation is waning and governments are looking inward.
It seems that we humans have an innate need to relive the worst of our history every few generations.
I think I have been most shocked at the rise of hate; suddenly it seems there are folks who think it is OK to attack people verbally and even physically because they are different from them. People don't want to help one another. There is a great suspicion.
Some Christians have completely lost sight of what it actually means to be Christian.
A new norm is being created and it is self-centered and frankly, rather ugly.
Lately I have been thinking of my friends with children and how hard it must be to raise children to be hopeful when there is so little hope in the world right now.
So there you are. 2016 is gone. 2017 does not look great at all. I do not for a second think that things will get better any time soon. I hope we can grab on to the brighter side of human existence and use that to get through the ugliness that unfortunately awaits.