New year, new beginning (and new hope)

With 2017 now just hours away, one invariably reflects of the past year. Things that happened in their lives, things that happened around the globe, things they would have loved to do or planned to do but didn’t, things that could have been done differently.

I have recently had a heated response with an old acquaintance online. (I do seem to be losing my temper more often lately. Perhaps it’s the MS, perhaps it’s the pressure from my job taking a toll, perhaps I’m getting old and grumpy)

So, this acquaintance was complaining that too many people are too concerned with the myriad of celebrity deaths over the past year and want the year to end, while at the same time ignoring all other events in the world that cost the lives of thousands of people – the war in Syria, the ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan, countless conflicts in Africa, people dying of starvation, poverty and increasing inequality, you name it. The assertion was also made that out tendency to kill each other is, to put it politely, messed up and not in line with civilised creatures.

So I lashed out (probably unwisely).

While I definitely agree on the premise that we concern ourselves too much with the lives of celebrities, and definitely respect the acquaintance’s right to their opinion, I also need to consider these things:

  1. All animals kill each other (and of course other animals). So, in that respect what humans do as a species is in fact natural. And yes, humans are animals.
  2. Yes, we have people dying of starvation, war, murder, suicide, etc. All the time. But the media coverage accentuates those situations, so it is natural that we feel it’s worse. And, I personally, feel distraught.
  3. The celebrities that died are just the cherry on the cake. And given their status as celebrities, by definition they will get more coverage. At least in our part of the world, where we are not constantly shelled, and our priorities are slightly different. At least not with bombs.
  4. Let’s not also forget that the vast majority of the people posting about celebrity deaths are between 30 and 40 years old. This string of celebrity deaths directly affects them. Emotionally. And emotions are pretty damn important. These are the icons they grew up with. And one by one they are moving on. This is not in any way the deadliest year for celebrities. It is though for the people now having an online and global voice.

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  1. Oh, and let’s not forget that these same people have (probably) never experienced war, poverty, starvation. They were born after World War II, and grew up in undoubtedly the most stable and prosperous period in human history and in primarily Western liberal societies. These are the same people that complain about the deterioration of the economy by the way.

My conclusion: Fact of the matter that we consider ourselves as sentient beings means we should have eradicated a lot of the reasons for death. But that same sentient status makes our killing capacity all the more vicious, brutal, and gory. I too would love to live in an ideal world. But this is not an ideal world.

So, yes, I am upset over how dreadful 2016 has been. For all the horrible events that happened – and like I said, the death of celebrities simply enhances that feeling. Because let’s face it, their death means the end of an era for our pop culture, the end of innocence for a lot of us. And at the same time the start of dreams on how to match and surpass their achievements. And in the process perhaps – I definitely hope so – make this world a better place.

So, let people be upset. And let them dream. Especially around the end of the year. You’d be surprised of what might come of it.

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