It may seem a little premature to be writing a review of 2016, but I’m not sure what my internet signal will be like if I need to bunker down with a four-year supply of tinned sardines and a wind-up torch. If Vodafone’s coverage in my kitchen is anything to go by, it’s not looking good.
If 1992 was an annus horribilis, this last twelve months must surely qualify as an annus whatthefuckisthis.
So many creative visionaries bailing out early as if they foresaw something we didn’t. The rise of the far-right at the expense of the left. Basic humanity deemed somehow incompatible with hosting Match of the Day. Syria, Brexit and Trump.
Now, I’m no theologian, but I’m pretty sure that’s the seven signs of the apocalypse right there.
And if that’s not terrifying enough, just look at what Nostradamus had to say about what would mark the end of humankind as we know it…
You couldn’t make it up! *ahem*
My last remaining hope is that during these next few weeks, 2016 will step out of the shower and we’ll realise it’s all been a dream.
But whilst much of the UK looks on with utter despair at America electing the cock-womble that is Trump, we shouldn’t let it take our attention away from what’s happening closer to home.
For while he mocks the disabled, we cut their benefits. When he talks of building a wall at the Mexican border, we’re busy building one in Calais. When he threatens to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, we drove a van around London telling them to go home or face arrest. He threatens to repeal Obamacare, our NHS is being privatised at a pace and scale never before seen. He promises to run roughshod over international human rights, just as the UN confirms our austerity policies breach those very same obligations. And whilst his repellent misogyny threatens to set gender equality back
decades centuries, our austerity program continues to disproportionately affect women twice as hard as men.
Never has my deluded, starry-eyed dream of a compassionate socialist utopia felt further away. Never did I expect to see fascism, racism and bigotry return to the mainstream. Never have I been more fearful for the world I’m handing over to Sonny and Luca.
But rather than scream “f*ck you 2016!” into the echo-chamber that is social media, I’m going to try and look for the positives. Try and salvage what I can from the rubble that is 2016. Find a glimmer of optimism for the years to come.
So here goes…
I have vastly more confidence in the millennials than my own generation before them, just so long as we hand over a world with which they can work. And in the longer term, my confidence in the post-millennial generation is greater still.
My boys know far more about race and religion than I ever did at their age, from which should come tolerance. Their understanding of climate-change is not clouded by denial, from which should come meaningful action. And through school they’re doing lots of wonderful work with a local food bank, from which should come compassion.
So if we can somehow ride out the next few years, and I appreciate that’s a big if, then the future need not look so bleak. If we can keep putting pressure on the hate-filled, right-wing media through campaigns such as Stop Funding Hate, it may not be too late to reverse the narrative. If we stop shouting into our screens and become more politically active, we could yet come out the other side stronger.
And there’s much we can do in the short term, too. Not least by trying to offset the worst of what 2016 has thrown at us by supporting some of the charities that will no doubt be left picking up the pieces.
Which is why my obligatory blogging Christmas gift guide this year, and what I’m asking friends and family who’d normally buy me a gift to do instead, is to donate to the following charities…
- Hope Not Hate
- Refugee Council
- Wood Street Mission
And if you’re sat wondering what to buy that person who’s impossible to buy for, maybe you’ll consider doing the same. We may not be able to reverse the harm done in 2016, but we can all help those facing a frightening and uncertain future in 2017. It’s the very least we can do.