Was 2016 the worst year ever?
This is the topic of many a newspaper article this week. For the life of me, I do not recall this being the discussion in previous years, even a year like 2001, when we were all conscious of a world changing dramatically.
In trying to keep an open mind, could 2016 have been the “Worst. Year. Ever!”?
There is plenty of evidence. Syria is a man-made disaster. Zika is a widespread epidemic. Cultural icons died – Prince, Ali, Bowie, and now Carrie Fisher. The Orlando nightclub shooting. A train-wreck of an election. The list goes on and on.
There is plenty of evidence. The Cubs won the World Series, and the Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, and millions of fans can now die in peace. Infant mortality rates are continuing to fall worldwide. So are rates of global poverty. And – I hate to say it – famous people die every year.
In fact, there is probably a better case to be made that 2016 was closer to the best year ever than the worst one.
And the safest. And the most prosperous.
So why do we all – present company included – feel more like Eeyore than Tigger?
By the way, there are two competing schools of theology on this very matter. One contends that the world will keep getting better and better until we reach a point of “heaven on earth” and Christ returns. The other states the opposite: that the world will likely get worse and worse until Christ returns to fix what we cannot.
So, which is it?
I have a theory.
My theory is that none of us really believe either one. Out of roughly 5,777 years of existence (yep, I’m one of those guys), the year 2016 was neither the best or the worst year in history.
If, in fact, 2016 was the worst year in human history, our only hope would be that at least it can’t get any worse…or can it?
If, in fact, 2016 was the best year in human history, we would be ignoring the alarming violence, cultural and political divides surrounding us.
So, not wanting to reach either a point of despair or delusion, what are we to do?
The same thing we do every year. Reflect on the past year. Repent for the the past year. Rejoice in the past year. Remember the good and bad in the past year.
And welcome a new year.
Start fresh. Make positive changes. Exchange negativity for optimism. Temper positivity with realism.
Have a real conversation, whether that means picking up the phone or putting it down.
Shut off Fox News and CNN and go for a walk.
Find hope not in last year or next year but in the God who is constant and eternal.
Find beauty in creation. Extend grace amid ugliness.
Pray when things are bad. Pray when things are good.
Ah, what do I know? There’s no “hot take” in the middle ground.
The only ones who have it figured out are the alcohol companies, right? Best, worst, whatever. People drink either way.
2016 is over; 2017 is here. Cheers!