2016 was a bad relationship for everyone. Selfish, greedy and just plain ignorant, we are all glad to wave goodbye to the the year that took Bowie, Rickman and Prince. But while you may have found a better connection with 2017, unfortunately last year isn’t just going to go away quietly. Like that ex that just keeps popping up in your inbox no matter how many times you told them it was over, sadly you can’t just pretend that 2016 never happened.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. The fake tanned, misogynist, racist elephant in the room- Trump. Now while I can’t for a second say I understand American politics, and fully agree that the recent presidential election was not a question of who is better but who is less bad, we are stuck with this man for the next four years. This time four years ago the third season of Game of Thrones hadn’t even aired, and if that doesn’t prove to you that a lot can go down in four years than I don’t know what will. In the four days since New Year, Trump has already offended North Korea, China and Obama himself. Four days! Just imagine what he’s capable of in four years. So while I (and I’m sure many others) would like to burrow away in the 15, 174.5km buffer zone between here and America, the circus that was the US election is far from dropping its curtain. Why, we haven’t even reached the intermission yet!
But criticising the American political system is a breeze compared to trying to understand what’s going on in the Australian Government. While the Liberal party’s victory in the election by seven seats this year was a kick in the guts to university students, supporters of same-sex marriage and believers in reasonable health care, we can’t just forget about it until the next election. 2016 saw the death of four people in Australia’s offshore detention centres, not to mention the deaths of those seeking refuge en route to our country or those who suffered serious mental and physical hardships following their treatment. Add to that the new laws banning any adult who is sent to offshore detention centres from ever setting foot in Australia again, and we have some pretty big issues to face over the next few years.
And we mustn’t for a second forget about all the human tragedies that took the lives of so many people throughout 2016; the Bastille Day attacks in Nice, Orlando shootings, the Berlin Christmas market attacks and now the New Year shootings in an Istanbul nightclub (just to name a few). All these events should spark conversation rather than be pushed under the rug as we count down to midnight. Whether it be amending gun laws or reviewing ‘defensive’ military presence in other countries, 2017 marks the start of a new conversation, not the end of a difficult one.
So, while we wish we could have a clean cut break-up with 2016, it’s going to be a little bit trickier than that. You have every right to say it’s not me, it’s you, and that you’ve moved on to better things, but I don’t think you’ll be able to get rid of last year by simply blocking it from your memory. ‘New year, new me’ goes without saying, but unfortunately a commitment to morning meditation and eating more greens than any other primary colour isn’t going to give the world that ‘new start’ everyone is hoping for…
Photo credit: Fly(er) on the Wall