This New Year’s Day started wet and grey, and it seemed like a bad omen – a sign that 2017 was going to continue in the same vein as 2016. But then the rain cleared. This morning I woke up and watched the sun rise into a clear sky, and I thought; it doesn’t have to be that way, maybe this year will be different – maybe together, we can make it different.
On a national, and international scale, 2016 was a bad year. It was a year in which a social inadequate, goaded on by idiots, decided to abandon his support network and go out into the world alone and unprepared (that’s the UK – not me!)
It was a year in which our government, having led us into a political situation for which they hadn’t prepared, abandoned their posts and went to make their personal fortunes courtesy of the business friends they had cultivated while still in office. Leaving us in the hands of a different bunch of idiots that we hadn’t had the chance to vote for. Our new, unelected PM is a bit like Cruella de Vil, but without the looks (or the dress sense). She’s good at signing things off. So far, she’s signed off a new nuclear power station which is to be financed by the Chinese and built by a French company, to a design that hasn’t been made to work yet (but has always run massively over-budget). Expect some Fall Out from that one. She’s signed off the third runway at Heathrow (which no-one but her business pals want), HS2 (which no-one but her business pals want) and fracking, which may well successfully destroy what’s left of our environment (and which no-one but her business pals want). She’s given church schools the ability to only take kids from religious families, which will increase segregation, further damage social cohesion, and make it impossible for millions more parents to get their kids into a decent school without having to pretend to be religious (Atheists? Us? Oh no vicar, you must be thinking of someone else!) Which no-one but her church friends want. She’s signed away the requirement for banks to hold at least a proportion of the capital they would need to cover their lending. Oh, but that was just an unnecessary restriction on their ability to do business in a challenging environment (what’s that – GFC? Um, well.. she prefers the fries at Burger King).
It was a year in which Europe’s leaders finally realised the diesel engine vehicles they have been promoting for the last thirty years are poisoning us all, without doing anything to reduce global warming (Der – some of us knew that from the start!) Whether they’ll actually do anything about it is another matter.
It was a year in which malevolent forces convened in Syria and, like a pack of hungry wolves, took down their prey and tore apart the carcass. It was a year in which resentment at Western ‘meddling’ (a very polite term for state sponsored terrorism) in the Middle East, joined forces with psychopathic, fascistic religious ideology to unleash mindless mass murder on Europe. And over in the good old USA, the electorate finally lost any remaining sanity and elected a… well, what can you say about D.T.? The ridiculous hairpiece, the fake tan, and that special way of speaking that sounds like a cross between Homer Simpson and a spoilt child having a tantrum should have given it away, even if the racist, misogynistic rhetoric, the blatant lies and the unhinged behaviour didn’t. I thought I’d seen it all when they elected Reagan (who’d have thought they’d put a cowboy in The White House?) What next – a cartoon character? (My money’s on Krusty the Clown).
It all seemed to have gone to hell in a handbasket. But then I watched the sun rise on 2017. Things aren’t going well at the moment, but perhaps they’re not as bad as all that. Fake news stories are nothing new. World leaders have always been corrupt, dangerous, or just plain stupid (and in many cases, all three). There have always been people with dangerous attitudes – racists, bigots, fascists – trying to impose their nasty ideologies on society. But these people have always been in a minority. When things have gone wrong it’s been because we, the (largely) sensible and well-meaning majority have stood back and let the idiots take over. It’s time for us to make our voices heard. Time to give ourselves a good shake, to realise that we have the power to put things right; time to use that power. This can be our year. Happy 2017!