2016 Didn't Suck, You Did.
2016 was the worst year ever. At least that’s what I have been told by the internet and countless millennials educated by the prestigious academy of Instagram meme accounts. In fact, when I typed “2016 was” into the Google search bar, I was given the options of “a bad year”, “the worst year”, and “a mistake”.
Indeed, this past year has seen enough tragedy and loss to be nominated for an Oscar. With tears and tributes, millions mourned the deaths of David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael. With a slight shake of the head and a passing feeling of privilege and guilt, millions ignored the deaths of refugees, black teenagers, and war victims. Climate change got worse. Brangelina broke up. Donald-freakin-Trump became the most powerful man in the world.
The global, big-picture situation is grim. Yet despite visions and plans which extend beyond and beyond, we do not live global, big-picture lives. Our lives are composed of quiet, paltry decisions, made in a blink and surely inconsequential to The Grand Scheme of Things. How will I spend my day off? What should I eat? Which apps do I want on my phone? Shopping and burritos and infinite social media apps are not the cause of calamity. What’s mine is mine. I do not affect nor am I affected. Sorry Donne, but man is indeed an island. Or is he?
We like the thought that each moment, day, and upcoming year is ours to do with as we please. This may be true, but so is the fact that your precious moment is also somebody else's, and seven billion other’s precious moment as well. Time, simultaneously, is intimately personal and utterly public. This clearly contradicts our individualistic lifestyle, so instead we deny this paradoxical nature of time and the interconnectedness of man. We assume that what we choose to do (or not do) will only affect my personal bubble of time and space.
It is this nearsighted perspective which makes a repeat of 2016 not only possible, but likely. This paradigm allows easy access to the greatly coveted “innocent bystander” seats, from which one has a nice view of the show - perhaps free popcorn - and the allowance to judge and critique brutally while assuming no responsibility. You may even get a free sense of entitlement thrown in as well.
So, 2016 was the worst year ever, and somehow also the best year of my life. Because time is personal, and time is shared. It is both claimed, and communal. Home is a place between walls with family photos, where shoes and masks come off; but home is also a city, or a country. We are responsible for the care and well-being of our community (mankind), in the same way that we are responsible for the dishes in our sink. We belong in The Grand Scheme of Things whether we feel it or not.
So, 2016 was not the worst year ever, for every year shoulders great beauty and pain. Like each year before it, 2017 will burst forth in chaste hope and will be crest-fallen by June. But while with hopeful hearts we teeter on the brink of the unknown, let us resolve to forgo our tunnel vision and never tire in our pursuit of beauty and love.