I need to say something about 2016. A lot of people have been dumping on this year–saying they can’t wait for it to be over and so on, claiming it has been a horrible year. 2016 has certainly been eventful, and yes, it has been hard on many people, but the year has brought plenty of blessings too. So, let’s be fair–let’s see if we can match good stuff with bad stuff, and remember that what we consider good or bad is all point of view. Others may consider it just the opposite, or somewhere in between.
Bad thing number 1: The Syrian Civil War has devastated the Middle East and created millions of refugees. God only knows how many people have died and the suffering involved has been incredible.
Good thing number 1: The world has responded with incredible efforts to help those refugees. The spirit of human kindness is not dead. My admiration to those who engage directly in this struggle against the greatest darkness of our time.
Bad thing number 2: Terrorism has increased all around the world. Virtually every country is being hit by something. A list of major strikes would be quite long.
Good thing number 2: We are not terrorized. The struggle against terrorism continues and they will lose in the end.
Bad thing number 3: Donald Trump won the race for President of the United States.
Good thing number 3: Donald Trump won the race for President of the United States. It all depends on your point-of-view, doesn’t it?
From here on I’ll use numbers. You realize the first one is the bad thing, the second is the good thing.
4. Britain voted to leave the European Union. Arguably one of the strongest European nations left. The whole thing may fall apart in the next few years.
4, Brexit as it’s called. Again, it all depends on your point of view. A majority of British citizens saw the EU as dragging them down to doom. They say rats flee a sinking ship. So do people. It makes good sense to get off a sinking ship before it goes under.
5. There were many natural disasters, but then again, there are always many natural disasters. This becomes a personal thing. If you were affected by a natural disaster, you have my sympathy, but although hundreds of millions of people were harmed by disasters, most of the 8 billion people in the world were not.
5. It was a year of plenty. More food, more consumer goods, more inventions. Over all, the world got better in 2016 instead of worse.
6. A lot of our favorite celebrities died in 2016. A lot of celebrities die every year. As the world population increases, the number of celebrities in the world also increases, so the number that die each year will also increase. Although we may be saddened by the deaths of our heroes and idols, we can live with it.
6. On the other hand, it was an incredible year for entertainment. The amount of new movies, music, art, games, sports, has never been greater. Personally, I went to see more movies this year than I have ever seen in any previous year of my long life.
7. It was an incredible year for Science. Amazing developments in astronomy alone: the Pluto flyby, the Ceres flyby and orbits, the Cassini mission to Saturn, the verification of gravity waves, all kinds of news from Mars. Closer to home: breakthroughs in virtual reality, self-driving vehicles, medicine, geology. The pace of scientific progress has become too fast for an ordinary citizen like me to actually monitor. It all seems to just fly by. Yet, I know I am benefitting from progress.
That concludes my list of general universal Goods and Bads. From there we step down to the personal level. On that level we have all had our defeats and victories. Perhaps your year has been more negative; but perhaps it has been more positive. Have you counted your blessings every day? When I think of all the pain I have suffered and or perhaps caused in the last year, it makes me sad and depressed, but when I remember all the good things that have come my way, it makes me grateful and happy, and I wonder why I should be so blessed. Look at your own life. Certainly there are people who have had things better than you. But there are so many people in the world who have had it worse.
In conclusion, 2016 was just another year. If we are fair about our analysis, it was probably a better year than you think. It’s easy to remember the things that made us cry; harder to remember the things that made us laugh, but then again, pleasure does not cause traumas that scar our minds and hearts. Personally, I’m a bit of a pessimist. I think 2017 is going to be a worse year than 2016 has been. And yet, if we live through it, 2017 will also be a year of net good over evil.
When I started this essay I thought I might also go through and list all my personal failures and triumphs, but you know what, that’s just too damn much to think about. I could probably write all day and night, and not finish that list. I suffered through the bad times and rejoiced in the good times. They followed each other with lows and highs alternating like some kind of sine wave or stock market chart. Everybody has had some bad times, and I hope, some good times last year. The point is to live through the bad times, and live for the good times.Think about it! Did you have good times last year? Did you smile at all? Did you laugh? Did you eat something delicious? Did you see a new place? Did you make anyone happy? Did you make a new friend? Did you create something? Did you write or paint or craft something? Did you give and get love from a pet? Did you feel God in your life? (Yeah, I know, God should come first, and She came last in my list. I am so self-centered. But, all you religious nuts (smile), I did remember God, and I thank Her/Him/It/Them every day.)
In conclusion 2016 was a very good year for me. It wasn’t my best year ever, but it was not my worst either. Over all, it was a better than average year, and I will not revile it. I hope you can see my point, and say the same.
Ken St. Andre, Christmas Day, 2016.