Well, would ya look at that. Check your calendar there, and notice something. Look at that date. Yep, right there. 31st December 2016. The last day of the year.
Somehow, we got there. We made it. We survived another year on this ever-changing, ever-worrying world. If we were to look back at this shambles of a year, that’s saying something.
We all know what’s happened this year; who we lost, who we gained, the beliefs that came to a head and how awful and resilient us humans beings actually are. As much as I was outraged, upset and genuinely scared by this year’s events, that hasn’t stopped me from believing that things will change.
I have spent many a New Year’s Eve writing down goals I want to achieve for the year, and they have almost always been to do with myself, my appearance or my achievements. But if I ever needed anything to show me that the world is bigger than me, and that I can in fact make a difference, it was 2016.
Trump didn’t get to power by himself. Clinton didn’t lose just because of her actions. The Western World didn’t collectively mourn and fear for ourselves, for the first time in many many years, just because a politician said so. All these things happened because these actions were made up of single, individual people acting. This year showed me that people do have power, and the world can change based on what you think, do, and say.
So this year I want to make promises to myself, and to the world. Last night I was having a conversation about the refugee crisis in Europe, a conversation I am, oftentimes, reluctant to join on purely because I do not know a lot about the situation. I know better than to throw statements around and argue against people who know just as little as me, but know their prejudices even better. I think this is a lesson we could all use.
Think, before you speak. Read. Educate yourself. Examine your natural reactions to shocking events and see what they’re based on; a hell of a lot of our prejudices are based on fear. Fear is natural, of course, but fear of change, fear of difference and fear of “others” is where we let ourselves down.
Remember that we are all in this together (HSM amirite). It’s not “us versus them”, it’s us living in this world. It’s us being separated by countries, class, discrimination, life experiences, war, money. It’s all of us trying to survive and to live our lives in peace.
We won’t get there if we continue to isolate ourselves and place ourselves in a bubble. Having sympathy for a war torn country is not enough when you refuse to let your country help, as it may induce change in your country. It is bigger than you. We are all bigger than each other.
From tomorrow, I know I’m not going to sit down and read every article in The Irish Times to ensure I am fully kept up to date on current affairs, nor am I going to try understand every little thing that happens. I want to make a conscious effort to be aware of what is going on, and more importantly, what I can do.
I want to educate myself on matters in my own country, and beyond. I want to remember that we are all facing an ongoing battle. I want to be kind, and be courageous. I want to push myself with my writing. I want to appreciate all and who I have in my life. But mostly, I want to be part of the people who change the world, who counteract all the bad and ugly that’s beginning to rear its ugly head.
So, have fun tonight, whatever you’re doing. Remember what happened this year. 2016 will be ingrained in all our brains for so many reasons. Use it as a lesson. It’s okay to ask if you don’t understand, educating yourself is an admirable thing. Pet your cat. It’s okay to take a break. Breathe. But if I am to say anything to you, to me, to anybody on the eve of 2016, it’s to look beyond yourself. We can’t waste any more time trying to maintain our comforts because we don’t know what will happen if we don’t.
Mind yourself, and be mindful of others, and I’ll see you in the New Year.