The arbitrary timestamp marking another turn around the sun is upon us 2016 has been ejected through the rear exit – you know, the one leading to the darkened basement, via rickety stairs with no banisters, where a pack of hungry wolves with rusty chainsaws is waiting.
Come in, 2017, come in. Make yourself comfortable while we go over the rules. As you know, 2016 made a few mistakes. Frankly, it made some disappointing choices and set a very poor example. I think we’d all prefer not to keep heading in that direction.
First of all, ease up on the celebrity deaths. A scattered few here and there are necessary reminders of our inevitable mortality and a bearable rehearsal for personal grief, not to mention a catalyst for shared nostalgia. But 2016 got quite carried away with its power over life and death, didn’t it? Between you and me I think it started to crack up towards the end there.
So yes, cut back on the pop star murders, if you wouldn’t mind. We’ve got bigger issues to deal with and we don’t need the distractions.
I’m sure you noticed things taking a distinct step to the right last year. What’s that? A goose-step to the right? Yes, very droll.
Still, it’s not really a laughing matter is it? Just in our little corner of pop culture there were the snarling puppies, the games journalism ethicists, the comics misanthropists – all came crawling into the sunlight spitting venom and malice, bold as you like. Vicious, spiteful little men – virtually always men – with their lovingly-maintained guns sighted on anyone of “those people” who dared to breach the walls of their sanctified estates.
Worse still, they were just the dress rehearsal for the main event, weren’t they? The advanced scouts ahead of the main invasion. And what a year was 2016 for the bug-eyed authoritarians, the frothing bigots and the shifty chancers who could hardly believe their luck at the opportunities served to them on a silver platter by fearful masses who begged for protection. Do you think they count their blessings, to have been delivered into times of such craven ignorance and incurious antipathy? I think not; rather I suspect they consider it their due, if not the fruits of their labours.
I see I’ve upset you. I’m afraid you may have to get used to it, 2017. I think we’re all expecting things to get worse under your watch. The global climate, the economy, the hardening of hearts against the unfortunate. The war drums have been lowered from their hooks and the percussionists are warming up with ominous rolls of snare and tom tom.
I would be elated to be proven wrong in my assumptions, but with the best will in the world I don’t see things turning around in a hurry. Things may very well get worse before they get better, I’d bet my life on it. Well, we’ll all be betting our lives on it, won’t we?
But see here, 2017, there’s no need to look glum.
Yes, there are certainly challenges ahead. Many undeserving innocents will be torn down, chewed up and cast aside, while monsters, thieves and despots will flourish. The weather and the extremists will become ever more extreme, ever more frequently. There will be anger and cruelty and inequities galore.
So be it. We will endure what cannot be avoided, and oppose that which must not be allowed.
What I want from you, 2017, is a focus on change for the good. I want to see you coming up with opportunities. Opportunities for peace, for unity and for understanding. I want to see prosperity, not disadvantage. I want songs of hope, not despair. I want to hear new voices with new ideas, ones that don’t depend on cutting services, or blaming the victims, or marginalising the vulnerable, or granting boons to those too wealthy to even notice.
Or if you think the classics are due for a comeback, perhaps a focus on health, education and the provision of life’s essentials might be a promising avenue for development. Do you have a flair for the dramatic? I could suggest a sudden reversal in the decline of Arctic pack ice or the Great Barrier Reef? Surely at least a new Beyonce album is not out of the question?
Well, I leave the details in your hands.
We’re all very happy to have you on board, 2017. I don’t mind telling you I have high hopes. A few souls around the traps have whispered that it would be enough just to get through you in one piece. That it would constitute a win condition not to end all life in a ball of thermonuclear fire or watch one civilisation after another collapse in economic and climatic catastrophe.
I sympathise of course, but I think we can aim a little higher than that.
It’s all up to you, 2017. Give us something positive to work with and I have every confidence we’ll pull back from the brink. Lay down the beat and the rest of the band will follow.
(I’d personally prefer you to steer away from anything too martial, if you wouldn’t mind.)
All right, off you go, then. You’re officially on the clock. Whatever happens now is up to you.
Best of luck, 2017.
Oh, and happy New Year.