So Long To 2016 – A Year Shaped Way Too Much by Fear, Loss and Ill-Directed Rage

A Few Parting Words for the Year from Doug Draper

Posted December 30th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

What can one say about this 16th or 17th year (depending on where you start the counting) of the 21st century as it draws to a close.

We have lost Leonard Cohen at a time when we need the wisdom and insights of people like him the most.

We have lost Leonard Cohen at a time when we need the wisdom and insights of people like him the most.

I could start by saying that my wife Mary and I had a very nice trip through New England to the coast along Cape Cod this past spring, and our oldest great cat, Dylan, is still here and able to jump up and down from the bed and window sills in his 18th year.

We saw two of our favourite music people  – former Guess Who lead vocalist and front man Burton Cummings and Canadian folk icon Buffy Sainte-Marie – at Art Park, and discovered two other great blues artists – Harrison Kennedy from nearby Hamilton, Ontario and Ruthie Foster from Texas – when they were performing together at a concert in the region.

But I’m not here to bore you with any more of that.

I’ve never been much for those ‘here’s what-we-did-all-year’ essays some people insist on tucking in the Holiday Season cards they send you, just in case you have finally made it through all of the newspapers, magazines and books you have piled in the corner and are looking around desperately for something other than the fine print on the warranty for the electrical appliance you just bought to read.

I can imagine some people who like sending or receiving these essays or year-end family newsletters or whatever they call them feeling a little by what I just said. But think about it this way. Maybe if you spent a little more time keeping in touch during the course of the year, you wouldn’t have to send and receive these chronicles on what happened in our lives over the past 12 months to begin with.

Perhaps sometime in about mid-February or so, you might want to pick up the phone – if you can get past the 140-character tweets and Facebook messages for a few minutes to pick one of those up – and call a few of the people you might otherwise send one of those year-end newsletters to, just to let them know you are still around.

Now let’s get back to 2016 – a year that marked by too many great artists and entertainers, along with a number of the world’s great thinkers, community activists and humanitarians, leaving us.

The Trump inferno is just getting started and, putting aside all those Americans who talk about maybe fleeing to Canada, there may be no place in the world where people won't get cinged.

The Trump inferno is just getting started and, putting aside all those Americans who talk about maybe fleeing to Canada, there may be no place in the world where people won’t get singed.

2016 was also a year where for a few brief, shining months, it looked like one of the more honest and progressive politicians I’ve followed in my lifetime – one Bernie Sanders – might just have a chance to beat all the corporate money stacked against him to become the U.S. Democrats’ contender for what is still one of the most powerful political offices in the world. But the Wall Street-sponsored Clinton machine had enough of the party’s elites and mainstream media pundits in its corner to derail Bernie’s campaign – if not his over-riding call for a political revolution – only to lose the presidency to that narcissist billionaire and Reality TV celebrity with orange hair and a truth-defying talent for channeling millions of peoples’ fears, frustrations, and hatreds into big-win deals for himself.

As for Canada’s Justin Trudeau, between the Globe and Mail exposures of secret, fund-raising gatherings with billionaire investors with Chinese government links and the green lights given to tar sand pipelines to the coasts, the bloom certainly seemed to be coming off the honeymoon rose as the year wore on.  

Just before Christmas, we had Trudeau forecasting a Trump presidency in the U.S. as a possible “opportunity” for Canada, particularly with Trump talking about wanting to remove any roadblocks put up by outgoing President Barack Obama to construct the Keystone XL pipeline to move tarry crude from Alberta to oil and gas refineries in the southern United States.

Dark clouds may be closing in on the days of sunny way selfies and roses for Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Dark clouds may be closing in on the days of sunny way selfies and roses for Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“I look forward to conversations on Keystone XL with the new administration and I’m confident that the right decisions will be taken,” said Trudeau, stressing as he did earlier in December when he gave his blessing to pipelines from the tar sands to the east and west coasts, Canada “has to get its resources to market.”

Don’t know what that means for addressing climate change in the New Year, but with a prime minister who sounds so willing to do business with a soon-to-be president who says the whole climate change thing is a “hoax,” it doesn’t sound like there is much hope for progress on this issue, at least not on this continent, in the near future. In fact, there is a real danger of going backwards.

Oh well, maybe we’ll have more Fort McMurray-like wildfires to keep us warm, followed by some floods to put them out before they burn too many communities to the ground. Have you checked your property insurance to see what kind of damage you are covered for lately?

With all of this twilight zone stuff going down, I’ve been thinking that we could use the poetic insights of Leonard Cohen, one of the great people we lost in 2016, more than ever. Then again, he left us a treasure trove of insights that we can sift through for ones that are relevant to any occasion.

As the last few hours of 2016 melt away, I will leave you with the lyrics from ‘Anthem’, a song Leonard Cohen wrote in the early 1990s that seem particularly suited to the times we are living now.

“The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be
Yeah the wars they will
Be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
The dove is never free

Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in

We asked for signs
The signs were sent
The birth betrayed
The marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
Of every government
Signs for all to see

I can’t run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
A thundercloud
And they’re going to hear from me

(Ring, ring, ring, ring)
Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in

You can add up the parts
You won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march
There is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come
But like a refugee

(Ring, ring, ring, ring)
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
Ring the bells that still can ring (ring the bells that still can ring)
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in.”

In the classic Holiday Season movie 'A Christmas Story', some of which was filmed in St. Catharines/Niagara, our hero Ralphie beats the bully out of Scut Farcus. We may all need to summon up some of the Ralphie in us this coming year to beat off the bullies in our midst.

In the classic Holiday Season movie ‘A Christmas Story’, some of which was filmed in St. Catharines/Niagara, our hero Ralphie beats the bully out of Scut Farcus. We may all need to summon up some of the Ralphie in us this coming year to beat off the bullies in our midst.

In the year ahead, let’s hope and let’s work and let’s  fight if we have to for better things for humanity and for all other life we share this one and only world with.

That’s about the closest I can come this time to saying ‘Happy New Year’, except to finish with this.

The late American radical and activist Abbie Hoffman once told me during an interview that in many ways in this life, we are still back in the schoolyard, and there are still schoolyard bullies out there

Let’s make a promise together to stand up and fight them.

Keep the faith. Doug Draper

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For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

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2 responses to “So Long To 2016 – A Year Shaped Way Too Much by Fear, Loss and Ill-Directed Rage

  1. Well Doug my wish for you and your family is that you all have a beautiful and rewarding New Year.

    Like

  2. Every year, every day has good and bad. Our responsibility is to keep hope and make sure the good wins out in the end. Happy and healthy 2017 to all.

    Like

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