An open letter to 2016
Dear 2016 — I have to say: “I’m glad you’re gone soon!”
And I bet you anything, that I’m not the only person telling you this. Don’t get me wrong, we couldn’t have lived without you. Further, there have been worse years than you. For example the one about 66 million years ago, when the dinosaurs became extinct. Or 1348, when the Black Death epidemic killed an estimated 25 to 60% of Europe’s population, and 1918, the year of the first wave of the Spanish Influenza, which was responsible for the death of 20 to 40 million people. And of course 1914 and 1939, when the World Wars began.
But still, you won’t be on Father Christmas’ good list either, I reckon.
To me personally, you have been quite alright. I finished my Master‘s degree, I enjoyed the summer, went travelling (even though it was only for a bit more than two weeks), got a job and moved to a new town. I finally saw some of my favourite people in the world again (who sadly live way too far away) and in a sort, I discovered who I really am. One could say I’m finally growing up, at least a little mite. Of course not everything was jolly good, but that’s life, right? There were a few messy and upsetting things going on next to the good things, but compared to lots of things happening around me, it‘s been — as I said — alright.
However at large, you have gone a bit wild 2016, haven‘t you? And sadly not in a good way.
Twice during your reign, I said “I don’t believe they’ll do that“ — obviously meaning “the British people won’t vote to leave the EU” and “the American people won’t vote for Donald Trump”. And twice I was wrong.
I will never forget the night I stayed up to watch the EU referendum results coverage on both British and German television and both seemed a little surprised by the results. I was too. And I was upset and sorry for my young British friends and EU friends living there — I still am. I remember waking up to messages by British citizen’s that they’re sorry and that they don’t hate us other Europeans. It was hard to read that people felt as if they’re making a step (or even a whole jump) backwards on the road to a united world. But I think we will have to wait and see how bad (or maybe even good?) this decision was.
With the American vote it was a tiny bit different. After the whole Brexit dilemma, I kind of feared the worst. My “I don’t believe they’ll do that“ wasn’t that confident anymore. But I still had hope, that people know how to choose the lesser of two evils and that rationality would win over rage. Well, once again I was disabused. There’s now someone in one of the most powerful positions in this world, who has no respect for women and minorities and who — let’s be honest — doesn’t really know what he’s doing. Or he’s really good in playing dumb.
Whilst these two events may turn out positive in some kind of way at least, even if it’s just to teach people a lesson, there are things that are simply sad.
You took some of our heroes: Musical legends like David Bowie and Prince as well as aspiring artists like Viola Beach, who had only started their career; our favourite bad-and-good-at-the-same-time-wizard Professor Snape, who you might know as the brilliant actor Alan Rickman and his colleague Gene Wilder, the first Willy Wonka; also lots of people‘s favourite radio friend and Children in Need ambassador Terry Wogan and you even managed to make two amazing writers disappear from the face of this earth within one day, Umberto Eco an Harper Lee. And even worse, politicians have been murdered for their opinion. Not only Jo Cox in Britain who got murdered for her opinion on the Brexit campaign, also so many others in countries where democracy is failing. Governments are suppressing their opposition, police forces and journalists and even worse their people. And worst of all, so many men, women and children had to die due to wars like those in Syria, Yemen and many more countries.
All these wars in this world are horrible, aren’t they 2016? Why didn’t you do your best to end them? You must have had a right laugh about humanity causing problems for each other instead of working together on their mutual challenges like hunger and the climate change…
During your time as eponym of our time reckoning, the terror attacks your predecessors already experienced continued — bombs in Brussels, lorries in Nice and Berlin as well as so so many more attacks in the Middle East and Africa. Basically, no one was entirely safe. It has been hard to watch the news sometimes.
You have made me sad, 2016. So many times you made me sad even though I wasn’t personally involved in the events. But you made me worry — worry about the future of this planet. Thanks to you, I lost a little bit of trust in my fellow human beings. But I won’t let you bring me down! I still believe in the good in people.
Why am I telling you all this, 2016? Well, I want you to tell your replacement 2017, that you aren’t the best example. Tell 2017, that its task is to do things different and perhaps even better . And maybe, but just maybe you will have done something positive after all.
One last thing my dear 2016, make it a nice goodbye please. It has been enough. Merry Christmas and enjoy your last days in this world.
And finally: Dear Humanity — it’s not really 2016’s fault, it’s all our responsibility. Please, let us all live together in peace, respect each other and honour our beautiful planet. Let’s make 2017 a better year for us!
All the best