Has there been a worse year in recent memory than 2016? From David Bowie and Prince to one half of WHAM! and Princess Leia, we lost more celebrities per capita this year than seems possible. Meanwhile, the arctic is melting, Syria is boiling over, and gross intolerance is once again not only rekindled but burning white-hot. Oh, and let’s not forget the staggeringly uplifting spectacle of the US presidential election, which was essentially a “least unpopular” contest that pitted “No thanks” versus “Never” and resulted in a fitting debacle where the total vote loser nonetheless claimed an electoral mandate. Yeesh.
Thankfully, the calendar inexorably turns and the year that was will be mercifully over. Of course, that only rolls us into 2017, which could be so dreadful (based on early projections) that we may soon look back upon those halcyon days of 2016, when things seemed a little less terrible. In that spirit, let’s send out the old year not with “good riddance” but instead with “till we meet again” — and ring in the new one with cautious optimism consistent with the cliché: “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” Yay?
Whatever happens, we can always at least say that we were there when it all went down. Rather than just being witnesses to history, however, we can also strive to be its architects. We can resist being constructed as consumers, and reclaim the mantle of being creators. We don’t need to be passive observers or suborn passive aggression in our distracted lifestyles, but instead we can be proactive participants and cultivate active peace in our daily lives. We can choose to do all of this, together. Yes!
In the end, as we turn the proverbial corner on the calendar, there’s a high degree of likelihood that we will need to rely on one another more and more as the uncertainties of the near future emerge. In order to do so, we have to relearn to recognize who are the kindred spirits in our midst, for real and not just as anonymous avatars; we also have to redevelop those skills of community-building that are in danger of being lost in a haze of solipsistic techno-fetishism. It won’t be easy to do this, but it will likely be preferable to not doing it as the wheels come off the world. Hey, all it takes is someone to step up: You.
In the meantime, we’ve got a party to go to! Let’s make it like 1999, before things went bonkers. YOLO…
Party Like It’s 2016!