Reflections on 2016

Mark Parenting, Rants 8 Comments

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
  • Shelter
  • 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.

Comments 8

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  1. Christmas is about giving and what better way to give than to give to those in need.
    This year sucks big time but as you say things can change when people put the pressure on. Remember how the monarchy was forced to change a few things after Diana died? Us peasants did that.
    I’m going to make a donation to Shelter (now) and it’s all down to having read this post. That’s my gift to you for having entertained me all year with your hilarious posts and because you are lovely human being. 🙂

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      Thanks so much Tracy, that’s one of the kindest things to have come through the blog!

      Easy to forget what we can achieve when we put our collective minds to it. Hopefully we’ll start 2017 by reclaiming the narrative. We can but hope x

  2. Oh Mark you’ve really hit the nail on the head with this. When someone said to me, “At least I’m not American”, I quoted JFK’s Berliner speech. It’s so easy to see them and us but there is is only one. One World. The dreadful pattern of Brexit/Trump is just that, a recurring pattern that can teach us something about ourselves. It was a wake up call for me not to be complacent any longer about Democracy. Why I’d never really had to fight for it until now, although as recently as 100 years ago my entire sex was disenfranchised. Even in just across the Channel, French women could not vote until 1944. A new dawn and a relatively peaceful time for the West since the war. This year things have changed unutterably, but like you, I have faith in the next generation. All but 5 states in the US voted overwhelmingly for Clinton in the 18-25 yr bracket. I want, and need, to trust that ignorance and hatred are in a small minority however big a noise it makes. Thank you for your considered and thoughtful post. I donate to Crisis already but will also give to one of your chosen charities. Jo x

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      Thanks Jo, really kind of you and much appreciated.

      Janet and I had a similar conversation the other night. About how recent recent history is, if that makes sense. Also how much we’ve achieved in such a short time. Hopefully it’s but a small step back before we plough on forward again.

  3. Superb stuff. While I enjoyed the shouting of the Fuck You 2016 on the John Oliver show, I think action like you suggest is a great way forward.

    Mind you, apart from aches and pains, I’ve rather enjoyed 2016.

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