So here we are again. The last day of the last month. A new year begins tomorrow.
It is all arbitrary of course. Monday probably won’t feel any different, except perhaps for those who overindulge tonight. Apparently, getting drunk on December 31is one of those things that crosses cultural and national boundaries.
For many people the date is one in which we pause, however briefly, and take time to reflect. What was good about 2017? What wasn’t that great? What can I do to make 2018 better? Not just for me and those around me, but for the world in general.
I’ve been thinking about 2017 over the past few days. Just some random thoughts. I’m not sure if the world is more chaotic today than it was on January 1, but it does feel that way. I’m not sure if we citizens of Earth have learned much, if anything, over the course of the year.
Climate change is still an issue with no consensus. The odds are that someone is wrong on what causes warming or cooling, and if we get it wrong it is future generations who will suffer the consequences of our action or inaction. I hear a lot of rhetoric, but don’t see much effective action on the part of those who feel we are in a crisis. Words are cheap.
Political environments appear to be increasingly toxic. That isn’t confined to the United States, though the situation there will probably become the textbook case. Distrust seems to be the default position for politicians and public alike, no matter where you are. Social disintegration will be the end result if people of good will don’t figure out how to turn things around.
We live in an age of wars and rumours of wars. ISIS is “defeated” in Iraq and being beaten back in Syria, but no-one is suggesting it will be safe for the refugees and displaced persons to return home anytime soon. When you turn on the television news or read the newspaper there will be accounts of minor conflicts in places you may never have heard of before. They don’t seem so minor to the people living in those places.
A new year is an arbitrary date, a point in time chosen for convenience. While one day may be just like the one before it, it doesn’t have to be. That is why there is so much optimism as the date changes and the new year begins. That is why people make resolutions at this time of year.
I tend to be neither optimist or pessimist, but more of a realist. I expect 2018 to be better than 2017. I expect that every year, despite evidence that generally it seems things are getting worse. Maybe that does make me an optimist. Or foolish.