So, finally we reach here, the end of another year.
Many awful things have taken place in the past year. I am still Charlie. I am as committed to encouraging peaceful debate to find solutions to the world’s ills rather than the current trend of rushing into reckless warfare as ever I was. I also know that profit from such undertakings is made only by weapons manufacturers, CEOs of security and restructuring companies (positions oddly enough frequently occupied by many former politicians who know a thing or two about greasing the way to a happy and affluent retirement), and obsession-crazed zealots. Though I have no time for, or sympathy with any kind of terrorism, I have to say that I think the so-called foot soldiers there involved are never the winners either.
Women and children continue to be kidnapped and raped and then murdered or sold into slavery or prostitution around the world in acts that should shame any decent human. We are the only member of the animal kingdom who behaves so appallingly…of course some people treat the rest of the animal kingdom as their shooting gallery too.
Disease still takes the lives of the less fortunate, but where yet again great wealth has proved to be no defence against illness. Let us hope for new cures and remedies in the forthcoming year and in the years ahead.
Politicians have yet continued to look after themselves in their climb to the height of their own mediocrity, save but a few. I admire Angela Merkel and applaud her being voted Person of the Year. I deplore Donald Trump who even now is not yet a politician – let us hope it stays that way.
There were remarkable scenes in Pakistan in February when the national cricket team were defeated by India in a World Cup series match that was played in Saudi Arabia. It was their sixth successive defeat. Fans, that’s most of Pakistan, carried television sets out into the street and smashed them in disgust. Such passion!!
Presidents Putin and Netanyahu, of Russia and Israel respectively, have proved to be as totally intransigent as ever. Meanwhile Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and the Islamic State have terrified the world, including most Moslems. It is quite clear from their spokespeople that they blame everyone for everything, and equally clear that those who oppose them feel likewise about them. Ergo, we are all to blame…what a great platform to debate solutions on. In China a seventy-one year old lady was sent to prison for seven years for having the temerity to complain about the lack of democracy, though I’m quite sure that point is wasted on them.
April saw terrible, terrible earthquakes in Nepal near Kathmandu in which nearly nine thousands souls were lost and another twenty-three thousand were injured. All this as we were being told that the global climate was becoming more unstable.
In Kabul in May, a woman annoyed a man by saying he was selling sham trinkets. He accused her of damaging the Koran, something he’d made up on the spot to get back at her and knowing what would happen. It did. The woman was immediately stoned to death, driven over by a car, her body burned and then tossed into a river like so much rubbish. Men were found guilty of this following much outrage, but that such things can go on in the twenty-first century, when of course there was never a time when it should have happened makes me despair.
It’s Victory Day in Russia, this time the Seventieth Anniversary of the defeat of Germany in World War Two. What does Putin do? He rolls out Russia’s powerful weaponry to show how tough he is. Bully for him!! On a par, Kim Yong-un continues to find reasons to execute anyone who he sees as a threat to his increasingly unpopular leadership.
Meanwhile, in Waco, Texas biker gangs waged war on each other in front of a Twin Peaks restaurant that features waitresses in bikinis (why do women stand for this?) Result? Eight deaths, sixteen injuries, almost two hundred jailed…and what did it prove? Nothing at all. At the same time as this deadly stupidity, and following the previous year’s drought, Texas was suffering tremendous flooding.
War in Syria. War in Iraq. War in Ukraine. Putin assures the West that it need not fear Russia saying, and I quote, “Only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine Russia would suddenly attack NATO. People with some common sense cannot even imagine such a large-scale military conflict today. We have other things to think about, I assure you.” Ukraine possibly!! It was not a good June.
After fifty-four years we have seen the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States of America. This can only be a good thing.
In September we heard that a previously unknown species of human had been found, Homo naledi. Excellent news, but I wish we cared more for the current one. Sadly, and yet again, over two thousand pilgrims lost their lives at the Hajj in Mecca, which seems constantly to suffer from poor organisation and a seeming contempt by the rich for the poor and devout.
Hurricanes towards the end of the year were hurling winds about at two hundred miles an hour causing trouble while an earthquake in the Hindu Kush took nearly four hundred people over a wide area. Meanwhile, a plane crash in Sinai crashed killing precisely two hundred and twenty four men and women and children. There are now places in the United Kingdom that have been flooded several times during the course of a single month bringing total misery as insurance companies startle to talk weasel words.
Though it wasn’t all bad. In Ireland, perhaps surprisingly, same sex marriage was legalised by popular vote, making them the first country to do so.
But then —– there will always be Paris. In November, terrorists killed one hundred and thirty people in a series of deadly attacks on restaurants and a nightclub. Nothing so brave as attacking and murdering people while they have a knife and fork in their hands is there? Except perhaps when they are dancing and relaxing! It seems I am now Parisian Charlie.
So not a great year really. Of course individually you may have had a great year or a not so great year, the former I fervently wish. For my part, it has been a year of some slight ups and some very low downs within the family, all relating to health. We are a strong family though and by and large we are ending on a positive note within a huge bubble of love and caring for each other. I really, really hope your years are ending positively too.
May the forthcoming year bring some solutions to the problems that ail us globally and individually. Let us spare a thought for those in peril, those in constant danger of abuse, those less fortunate, those who put themselves in harms way on our behalf to protect us, those who would rescue people from burning buildings, or at sea, or who race to our emergencies along our busy roads or in our houses, those who care for the sick and infirm or who constantly try to free the minds of the confused, those who find themselves caring for their parents when they are just children who should enjoying life, and those who care for loved ones who no longer remember them.
Let us all be much kinder to one another and strive for a Happy New, and all the way through, Year.
Happy 2016 everyone, the whole world over.