After a long, strange, fearful, exhausting year, many people can’t wait to say sayonara to 2016. It was a year of the zika emergency, the Flint water crisis, the Orlando terrorist attack, the deaths of many beloved celebrities and prominent politicians, the hottest ever recorded summer, attacks on police officers and the nastiest election race in recent memory, complete with Russian hacking. It was an election year where politicians forgot how politics works, pollsters forgot how polls work and pundits forgot how predictions work. “Populism”, “post-truth” and “political correctness” were buzzwords. Fake news sites, red cap sales and proud deplorables grew in unprecedented numbers. And what is there to show for it all at the end of the year? A great internal divide, a diminished external standing and a lot of bruised feelings.
Sounds pretty depressing huh? Well for those (precious few) who were paying attention, this year’s political upheavals were a long time coming, seeded out of globalization, mass migration and the rise of the digital age, and liberally watered by the 2008 financial crisis. It was characterized by a growing resentment of the increasing inequality between rich and working classes and a growing distrust of authority in general and elitist politicians and journalists in particular. And it grew in strength thanks to the power of social media and the growing polarization of the opinionated masses.
Surely it’s time turn our backs and party like it’s 2017, you say? Well there are still plenty of ups and downs to come in the New Year – starting with the presidential inauguration of the most divisive man in the country. So what should everyone take away from 2016, you ask? Mostly it’s important to remember that wounds take a long time to heal, but for the sake of the country and its people the divides between classes, parties, demographics, sexes and individuals must be bridged. It will happen faster if the bridges are built by those at the top, which means taking concrete steps to show that all sides are being heard and action is underway to address as many issues as possible that are important to them. And those people should remember that to “live in freedom one must grow used to a life full of agitation, change and danger”. 2016 is dead. Long live 2017.
Movie for your mood: The Year of Living Dangerously