Annus Horribilis?

For the end of the year, this most recent column from The Kitchener Post seems the only thing I really need to say:

The light shines through the dark

Kitchener Post
By James Bow

SEE MORE articles from this author

In 1992, Queen Elizabeth capped off the 40th anniversary of her coronation with a speech wherein she referred to the previous year as an “Annus Horribilis.” She was reflecting on a bad year of divorces and a press scandal that afflicted many members of the royal family.

For many in my circle, 2016 has 1992 beat. My friends think it was for many different reasons. Some point to the number of celebrity deaths that shocked them this year, from David Bowie and Prince to Leonard Cohen.

Others point to nasty conflicts throughout the world, from the siege and misery of Aleppo to the terror attacks from Berlin to the horrifying Orlando nightclub shooting and the acts of racist vandalism that have been reported in recent weeks.

And don’t get me started on the state of politics right now.

For others, the pain is more personal. Friends and loved ones have gotten sick or passed away. There are empty chairs at Christmas. There is nothing that can be made good out of that.

With all this tragedy, it can feel that the world has become a darker place. However, this year has also seen moments of light. A few lists have appeared on the Internet highlighting some of the positive developments of 2016.

There have been successes in medicine. We are developing a vaccine for Ebola. Child mortality rates are down in the third world, as is the transmission of HIV. The World Health Organization recently announced that there are now no cases of measles anywhere in North and South America.

There have been successes in environmental stewardship. British Columbia moved to protect a large portion of its temperate rainforest. Recently, the United States and Canada agreed to ban drilling and oil exploration in sensitive Arctic waters. Renewable energy like solar and wind is getting cheaper than greenhouse gas-emitting energy.

Scientifically, we got a close look at Pluto for the first time, thanks to New Horizons. We heard the sound of two black holes colliding. We took further steps to better understand the universe around us.

Politically, protesters at the Standing Rock reservation, backed by pressure from around the world, successfully stopped construction of an oil pipeline through their sacred land.

And, after 108 years, the Chicago Cubs finally won another World Series.

For my family, this year will also be remembered for medical triumphs as well as tragedy, and for being another year where grandparents got to love and enjoy the company of their grandchildren.

These moments of light do not erase the dark moments of 2016, but neither do the dark moments erase the moments of light.

Although I’m feeling the tragedy more this year, the truth is that every year is a mix of happiness and sorrow. It comes from opening ourselves up and taking risks. Yes, we can feel pain. But without it we can miss out on love.

Without struggle, we can forget what is worth fighting for.

The next year promises challenges as well as potential triumphs. If we want to make the world a better place we must work hard to do it. Sometimes it feels as though the struggle will never end. But the only sure-fire way to fail is never to try in the first place.

My wish to my readers is that you spend this holiday season in loving company, and that 2017 is full of happy moments as well as things worth fighting for.

blog comments powered by Disqus