Not the Worst

It’s shortsighted to call 2016 the worst year ever. It’s an unkindness to the many other years when human loss obliterated everything else. I’m reading a novel taking place partly in Europe during WWII, and it drives the point home that the tragedy, loss, and despair many of us felt this year is not an anomaly.

It’s a reminder that we’re always holding our civilization together with masking tape and twine.

Loss is nearsighted. It makes us shy away from looking to the future, of seeing beyond our own noses and the noses of the people we love. It makes us exaggerate our own losses and clouds the losses of others far away, either in space or in time.

I feel like it’s a trap to give in to that urge: if our civilization is really so barely held together, now is not a time to hoard twine.

I’m making plans. I’m looking to the future. I’m keeping hope and holding peace in my heart.

2016 was a year of loss, of tragedy, of massive societal failure. 2017 will likely be the same, as was 2015, 2001, 1944, 1914, 1863, and every year in between; just as every year since humans created civilization. We are imperfect, and we fail a lot.

It’s still OK to hope. It’s better than OK: it’s necessary.

2016 was not the worst year ever; 2017 will not be the best. But I will be better in 2017. I hope you will be, too.

Let’s do our best to be clear-sighted and share our twine.