Welcome to the end of 2023. We arrive at the turning of another calendar year to usher in 2024. Culture, or perhaps human nature, tells us to look back and asses the passing year, and enlightened, look forward with new resolutions.
The year 2023 can be summed up in no easy terms. The recurring themes seem extensions of previous years: Climate. Conflict. Migration. Rinse, repeat…. War.
Mass shootings in the U.S. remain at their record highs for the past two years. Around the world, administrations are creating departments for loneliness and trying to find solutions for depopulation and Mental Health like a shy adolescent alone on prom night retreats out of the spotlight in the midst of more global issues. The space race shifts into higher gear. Meanwhile back on earth, many believe we are at the precipice of something quite daunting. Artificial Intelligence makes waves, something foreboding, now integrated into nearly every device, merging with robotics to devise something beautiful or strange.
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So much in the name of religion and geo-politics, a different reading of the various texts may be called. The various deities so often end on the wrong side of history when their self-righteous followers can live alongside occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. But history has a short memory, and one that is highly selective.
It would be difficult ending the year without being weighed by all the events which have taken place. Still, Taylor Swift is Time magazine’s person of the year amid record number of journalists killed in Gaza. Rush to get out the lists, we miss the year-end bonuses. Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year is “rizz.” Read: charisma. Yes, dictionaries, too, can engage in gaslighting, which, incidentally, was last year’s Word of the Year from Merriam-Webster.
So this is how it is. The West, flicking its rear view mirror, pulling out from the rubble, careless and smiling. Take back the rizz, Swifty blasting in the earbuds, driving with the top down, sunglasses and all teeth.
Perhaps the New Year will usher in a new trend of thoughtfulness and reflection. The next big idea could be this: Killing people is not okay, and ethnic cleansing is actually not on the right side of history. You who do not remember passage from the other world I tell you I could speak again: whatever returns from oblivion returns to find a voice. Imagination. Empathy, kindness and understanding. We can still hope.
Welcome to 2024. Happy New Year.