The internet is awash with memes and articles and social media posts claiming that 2016 is the worst year ever. And while a lot of it is valid, people are jumping onto a bandwagon and, frankly, it is getting out of hand.
I’m not saying this year hasn’t been tough – in many ways the world is broken, and when things get tough, people become assholes. Brexit and Trump are prime examples of this.
And I know we lost Prince and Rickman and Cohen and Bowie, but are you saying Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heath Ledger, Whitney Houston, Bernie Mac, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, Patrick Swayze, George Carlin, Paul Newman, Michael Clarke Duncan et al are chopped liver?
“But Syria!” you say. Guess what? The civil war started in 2011. They’ve been living 5 years of hell already. You’re just starting to pay attention now.
I’m not saying 2016 didn’t have a lot of terrible moments, I’m just saying that off the top of my head I can think of a bunch of years worse than this one.
About 500 million people worldwide get the ‘flu and between 50 and 100 million of them die from it. In those days that was about 5% of the world’s population. Think about it – 5 out of every 100 of your friends dead. 5 out of EVERYBODY’s 100 friends dead. On top of that there was a spot of bother called the First World War going on in the background. Now that was a kak year.
Nazi Germany occupies Poland and World War II breaks out, leading to the deaths of another, say, 60 million people and the following highlights: Nazi death camps, sanctioned bombings of civilian cities, atrocities in China, mass starvation in India and Russia and, finally, the use of atomic bombs and the resulting split of the East and the West in a 45 year long Cold War. So ja, that was a kak year.
We're at home now and South Africa is on the brink of civil war. Children are being killed by grenades in Mamelodi. Forced conscription is a thing and young men are sent to fight a war funded by the USSR and the USA. Bombs, limpet mines and car bombs are exploding all over the place. Sanctions are rife. A psycho who calls himself the “Wit Wolf” mows down 8 innocent black people in Pretoria. Another kak year.
Two airplanes fly into the Twin Towers. Because nearly 3000 innocent people die tragically, America and Britain decide to invade Iraq and about half a million Iraqis (most of them civilians) are killed as a direct result of the conflict. The war causes further destabilisation of the Middle East which makes it nearly impossible to combat the many terrorist groups now sprouting like mushrooms. This also leads to 8 years of George W. Bush who was, until now, America’s most ridiculous, yet dangerous, president. Kak year? I think so.
“But exactly!” you say. “What if 2016 is the year that sets the next worldwide catastrophe in motion?”
Well, then I’d say you make a fair point. Trump’s proposed policies – about climate change alone – can very certainly prove to be catastrophic on a global scale.
So, in short, stop saying “2016 is the WORST”. It’s not. In fact, it's probable that it is only the beginning…
Next week we’ll do a roundup of GOOD THINGS that happened this year. If you’re still not convinced.