Sitting down to write about 2017 is like trying to write about worm holes connecting two different universes together. 2016 sent shockwaves through our comfy, complacent lives with the rise of populism and polarisation. Nations rose against nations and levels of satire came out to match. The layers of complexity have been hidden by a symphony of simplification, often fake, often panicked, hardly ever thought through.
In early 2018 the call to arms is slow down and think. More than once I have heard friends and associates pairing down on instant messages and notifications for an altogether more thorough approach to our daily receivables. Perhaps this is the only way we can collapse the simulacrum, where the image that is projected and received, is not only inferior to the original but lacks substance. Slow reading, slow communicating and more time to spend with each other being present, not distracted may lead to more fulfilling lives where we recognise before it is too late that we are losing not only our rights but also our dignity.
In 2017 we saw writers like Stefan Zweig gaining popularity again in the backlash against the encroaching swathes of populisms from continent to continent. As Europe broke open and tentatively pieced itself together with often empty but hopeful Euro zone symbols, the reminder why Europe was created came to the fore. Zweig’s words rang out from the past to our future, as nearby nations rose against each other in favour their own shortsighted pride and arrogance. Banished to quaint bookstores in Brooklyn and Shakespeare and Books for decades till now, Zweig has never sounded more modern. He’s right there, reminding us our living history warning us of the dangers to become if we fail again to acknowledge our hubris that keeps destroying us.
What is easy to follow and hard to believe? I found myself saying in a riddle guessing game with my niece and nephew on a car journey. The words tripped off my tongue as if from some unknown force. “Jesus”? “Religion”? they chorused. “Faith” I answered.
As we trip over ourselves following blind faith we lose faith in each other, in our collective humanity, our faith in our unseen value that can never really be counted, existing between us, within us and that binds us together indefinitely. If we are to face 2018, we need to recapture some of that faith within and between us, so that we can begin to cross over from the ruins of the past to a future full of faith not fantasy as our escape from the horrors of our present. Take it as a gift that we have come through a difficult year and entered uncertain times, as the nightmares of the present can only be vanquished through our own collectives efforts. Remember we always have a choice and if that choice is to ignore the echoes of our past, our present will simulate a more vicious and catastrophe verisimilitude than any of us can dare to imagine in our instantaneous, over-sensory lives. If faith is the sister of hope, then hope could be the father of truth; so perhaps faith is the mother of peace. With all things being equal we cannot have one without the other. In faith, hope and truth, I wish everyone a peaceful, Happy New Year 2018!