So today is 1st January 2016, Nope 2017. A few things are inevitable here, firstly I will accidentally write 2016 where I should be writing 2017 for the next 3-5 weeks. I will also now hear the same people I have known for a while (in some cases 2 or 3 years and in some cases 2 or 3 decades) tell me about how much they are going to embrace 2017 and use new years resolutions to fix everything, They won’t.
I will also hear about after a year of our favourite celebrities dying 2017 must be better. It won’t, and this is not surprising, the 60’s onwards gave us a swelling idea of celebrity culture and the age we have stumbled upon of instant updates, ever present surveillance and constant knowledge of our long grey heroes will mean that from here on out this will be the norm. Not only are there more aged and unwell celebrities than ever before, but we know more about them than ever before, long after they probably expected they would be able to shy away from the stalking lens.
Cynical? yes, you will see a lot of that if you keep reading (assuming anyone gets this far, outside of my wife who I will badger into reading it) but cynicism is not necessarily pessimism. I am no nihilist, I am not hoping for more bad news, the facts just seem to point in that direction
Case in point. 2016 was a year when a lot didn’t go my way, in a global sense. I saw technology that should make life easier suppressed by those whose interest it does not serve. I saw the wholesale victory of a campaign of fear and selfishness push away from the ideal I hold of a united Earth and the work of building a pan-European society which respects the benefit of each state culture dashed and cracked. I started observing the Brexit campaign with a view that the politics of Europe was imperfect, please don’t believe I am pro-EU at all costs, but it is still better than the alternative.
I voted remain, but in reality, I voted to build rather than to destroy, to combine rather than to divide, to accept people rather than to reject differences. I didn’t even vote this for my sake, I have done personally little to deserve it. I voted this way because I would like to think that the future of our society is the egalitarian and enlightened future of star trek, rather than the terrifying future of Blade Runner or the Hunger games. I have a daughter who plays with other children blind to their origins, and I know that it is all too late for me to shake off the inherently prejudiced judgements I grew up with which I have trained myself to ignore, I had hoped she would remain blind to this altogether but now I feel that won’t happen.
Then there is the time the United States took a deep breath, held the gas in a little too long and let loose an almighty Trump. A couple of weeks from now we will see this man take office and although I believe the damage he can cause will probably be more limited than people fear, the delay to those who have waited a long time for life to get better (Ethnic minorities, women, the LGBT community) to enjoy the same universal freedom as everyone else will be unbearable. Too many generations already have been lost to improving things for those to come, and I fear Trump is a social stumbling block too many.
People didn’t vote for him with hope, people voted for him with a delusion that the world was better before. It wasn’t better before, you just didn’t see what it was like to live with the discomfort of being the wrong gender/sexuality/race in your community. Trump will only make America great for those who he deems are worthy, and this won’t be many.
Does this have anything to do with me in the United Kingdom? Yes, it does. From the perspective of those beyond Europe to the east it has long been held that America is the loud mouth talking for “The West”. While there are a lot of things I love about the United States, I would not like to be associated with the way it works and in particular the way it represents the west.
So why am I not glad to see the back of 2016? Because 2016 was when all the cards were dealt, 2017 will be the year we play our hand and see what is to be gained, and far more likely what valuable ideas are left to be lost.