“By time, Indeed, mankind is in loss. Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience”.
(The Declining Day 103:1-3)
Using an analogy commonly associated with vintage wines, 2015 hasn’t been a particular good year. Whilst 1992 was the year Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II referred to as her ‘Annus Horribilis’ for very personal reasons, I would say 2015 has probably been pretty close. Based on global events that have affected us all in some way or another both in this country and further afield. There were days when the media frenzy around what was seen to be news worthy reporting appeared nothing short of bizarre. Zayn Malik’s exit from One Direction left thousands of young girls heartbroken and the emotion displayed by people when discussing the colour of ‘The Dress’ are just two examples of what constituted news. But the sadness, death and destruction seems to have far outweighed any good or amusing elements of the last 365 days.
Charlie Hebdo, Bethnal Green, Chapel Hill, Baltimore, Kathmandu, Charleston, Tunisia, China, Bangkok. Kuwait, UK elections, France, Turkey, Da’esh, Trump, Aylan, FIFI, San Barnadino, Trudeau, Canada, Hajj, Syria, Calais.
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list. But I’m pretty sure that with each of the names, places, events mentioned above, there will have been recognition of the specific events referred to and in most cases the aftermath.
The world of 2015 appeared dominated by news of more deaths, shootings, natural disasters and man made disasters than in previous years. Peaceful law abiding communities across the globe were left having to defend themselves because of the selfish destructive actions of a minority. It took the image of a dead three-year-old on a Turkish beach to shake up the world from what could almost be described as a drug induced coma, to the reality of refugees trying to escape their war torn homelands. The Jungle in Calais can only be described as an abomination and it is almost a given that in the UK people need food banks and there are homeless people living on our streets. Welcome to the civilized society of the 21st century. Welcome to 2016.
Okay so there have been a few silver linings in an otherwise grey sky. The knife attack on Leytonstone Station was another unprovoked attack on an innocent man, but what followed when a young man (who wasn’t, as originally believed a Muslim) shouted “you ain’t no Muslim bruv” was unexpected. The social media frenzy using the hashtag #Youaintnomuslimbruv was not only amusing but renewed your faith in humanity. It was of great significance to at last hear the Prime Minister refer to “Da’esh” leading the way for our politicians, media and community activists to use the term. What a star Cristiano Ronaldo turned about to be when he walked onto the pitch for Real Madrid’s league game against Granada with the son of the Syrian refugee tripped by a Hungarian journalist. Nadia Hussain won the Great British Bake Off leaving some people dumbfounded that a Muslim in a hijab could bake! And the international development goals set by the United Nations in 2000 by the 189 member bodies appear to have made some headway in reaching the targets that had been set for 2015.
This year we commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide that saw the killing of 8372 men simply because they were Muslim. The 70th anniversary to mark the end of World War 2 reminded us of how often over the years we have said “never again”, yet never again appears to be happening again. Is history beginning to repeat itself by the indiscrimate targeting of another faith group? This year has seen a marked increase in hate crimes, particularly Islamophobic attacks on Muslims and especially those most vulnerable in our society. People seem more interested in videoing incidents on their phones than intervening and stopping these verbal and physical assaults from taking place. Men, women and children have been attacked and abused on buses, trains and planes. People have got up en masse and left carriages simply because of the someone dressed in a particular way, just happened to get on. And no one has spoken out. The bus drivers and train drivers might be scared of intervening in case the attackers turn on them, but let us try and remember that no one could be more scared than the victims. Much of this is down to the continuing effect of social media on our lives. Unfortunately many people who engage in being ‘social’ are unable to distinguish between the real world and the virtual reality they create around themselves and their alter egos. Social media is responsible for creating its own brand of Frankensteins in the shape of experts, leaders, activists, doyens, gurus and specialist advisors. And the rest of us will no doubt continue into 2016, shaking our heads in wonderment at the damage being inflicted by all the above on wider society.
So as we begin the new year, I pray that 2016 brings the world peace, security and reconciliation. May those who are ill be healed. May those who have been bereaved find comfort. May those who are lonely find companionship. May the hungry be fed and the homeless find shelter. May those living in conflict zones find some solace and may those in positions of power work for the betterment of our world. May those who have lost their homes find new and better places to live. May they be welcomed with open arms and generous spirits. May those who are oppressed find freedom from tyranny. May those who are lost find their way home. May the ignorant find enlightenment and discover the true beauty within diversity. May we all learn to respect the other, regardless of our differences, be they be based on race, religion, culture or lifestyles. And may we all work to create a world worth leaving to our future generations.
Happy New Year everyone. May 2016 bring happiness and contentment to you and your loved ones xxx.