Hey there dear blog reader! I’m back!
I took a couple of weeks off at the end of the year to gorge on turkey, roast potatoes, yummy choccies and other tasty indulgences. I thought I’d start the new year with some reflections on 2011. The internet is awash with “Highlights of 2011” and “2011 in Pictures.” And plenty of folk bang on about new years resolutions, yadda yadda. I guess I’m no different in that respect although I’m not much of a resolution kinda guy, I prefer to make adjustments to my life and my moral philosophy.
I have goals, who doesn’t right? Lots of achievable ones and some more outlandish ones, for the sake of bringing impossible excitement to the year ahead, but you never know, so I may as well stick “Swimming with a Great White Shark” in at #9 on my list.
Before I launch into things I’d like to wish you all a pleasant, prosperous and fruitful New Year. Sincerely. May your hopes and aspirations for the year ahead plan out. Dream big, folks, because we all need something big to look forward to. But at the same time remember to live in the moment, because before we know it 2013 will be here and we’ll be thinking “Woah, whatever happened to [insert topic/event here]?”
My quick catch up.
What a year it has been. It started out with such high hopes, big bangs, singing around the world as the clocks rang out the New Year. The world has been bombarded with so many events it’s hard to remember what order they came in.
A tsunami battered Japan, with horrendous loss of life and a nuclear power station that’s still on shaky ground. An earthquake in New Zealand, nasty business that. Nature has shown us how deadly it can be with tornados in America, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in Iceland.
Osama Bin Killed.
In a fan fare of publicity equal to a big budget action movie, Bin Laden was killed in a compound in Pakistan, and then he was buried at sea. Weird. Because we all believe that don’t we? And it wasn’t a PR stunt at all to encourage political happy thoughts, right? I don’t care too much for conspiracy theories, Loose Change was a fun watch but it doesn’t conclusively prove anything. I think the reasons for going to war in Iraq were laughable, however I applaud the efforts of the military personnel who put themselves in harm’s way.
Gaddafi was killed after being found in a drain or a hole or something.
Can’t say I’m sorry to see him go. I just hope Libya use the opportunity to put their country on a more peaceful footing and prosper instead of falling into civil war. As for war, there’s a lot of it about, and I mean a lot. Makes me wonder if we got the whole peace thing wrong and that God bred mankind for war.
In the UK we had lots of rioting.
Cities were terrorised by complete morons, the dregs of society running around like sheep, burning and looting without any real reason or motive. Rebels without a fucking clue. And then some people complained the punishment dealt by the courts was too tough! No it wasn’t. If you want to break the law in that manner you deserve to be made an example of.
The problem as I see it is that for too long the UK has allowed the lower classes to breed generation after generation of dossers who are often happy to claim benefits, breed, sell drugs, join gangs, rob, steal and spit on the rest of the population. And don’t for one moment think I’m being too mean just because a few people appear on TV saying they’re not bad people and really want to get out of the mess and crime ridden areas they live in. We have ourselves to blame for creating a section of society where people think the country owes them something. It doesn’t. Not unless they contribute to it in a constructive manner.
Sure, the government turned a blind eye to the growing section of the country that had no hopes and no future, but it’s the ethics and morals of an entire society that give those with nothing the notion that they are entitled to something for nothing.
And then we had the Occupy [insert your nearest town here]
Where protesters occupied various places, making the world very much aware of the We Are the 99% movement. While I agree that there are plenty of good hard working people who are being marginalised by the system, I question what the protesters hoped to achieve other than a few minutes on the evening news and a website of people stating their case. The photographs of people holding up cards with their story on them are moving but they’re just photographs. They won’t change anything. Sadly.
I’m not knocking anyone for speaking out, but did anyone seriously think they could change anything? It may be true that governments should be afraid of the people and not the other way around, however, it’s very difficult to encourage enough people to band together to make such vast changes. Maybe at some point it will change.
It’s good to see US troops returning home from Iraq.
And that Obama kept his promise. I was pleased to see no Hollywood drama about the event, unlike Bush’s “Job Done” bullshit heroics. The man should be ashamed of himself. Anyone who hasn’t been there and wants to talk about the military at war should watch a documentary first, Restrepo for example. It can bring the horror of the war right to you.
The issue of Afghanistan is still ongoing, and from the average Joe Smith on the street it seems pointless, one step forward, one step back. Instead of wasting lives maybe troops should be pulled out of what has already been an overly long conflict with what seems like little in the way of a good result. Maybe I’m wrong, please correct me.
Here in the UK we had a Royal Wedding.
The “kiss” seen by plenty of people around the world, 2 billion apparently. Not sure how anyone arrived at that figure but hey it was memorable, and that’s enough for me. It was a chance for all those people in the UK, and around the world, to feel proud to be British, even those who slam and mock the UK on occasion.
But what about the faces behind the events of 2011?
There’s always something new on the news to watch whilst we sit in the comfort of our homes. It’s pretty easy to stare blankly at the TV screen as the drama unfolds thousands of miles away. So as we welcome the New Year with a cheer and a drink we should take time to think of those who have had their lives wrecked through terrible events.
Two days after Christmas Day I was in a supermarket getting some milk and dog food. I was minding my own business when I heard a kid crying and howling in an adjacent aisle. Bloody kids, I thought, shouldn’t they be at home enjoying their Christmas presents? I soon saw the kid, a boy of around 8 or 9, tears streaming down his red face, stamping his feet and shouting at his poor tired mother.
I listened in as I browsed the tins of tuna, not that I wanted tuna, I was being nosy! The kid wanted a toy he had spotted. Clearly his mum had told him no. But he cried and stamped his feet, following her up and down the aisle, occasionally slumping himself on the floor and refusing to move. I mentally shook my head. It’s not the kids fault he wants something. I can’t say for sure if he had an enormous pile of presents to open on Christmas day or not. I live in a fairly decent area, and both mum and kid were well dressed, so it’s safe to assume he had a healthy stack of toys on the big day.
And yet there he was, with his strop on. Wanting.
Driven to consume whatever cheap piece of plastic shit the media tells him he must have. What his friends all say they’ve got, what the TV and internet tell him he MUST get without fail. Isn’t that just a bit sad? Not as sad as the teenage girl at the checkout with her mum who had a face like a smacked arse. She had also been told off for wanting by her mum.
I had some funky gifts for Christmas. I got a new Wallet of Awesomeness. All big and chunky to replace my other dilapidated POS I’d been carrying around for about 15 years!
Like those who rallied to the Occupy Wall Street movement I would like to see change. I’d like to see the human race evolve beyond measuring their lives through material gain. I’d like to see less want, want, want and more charity and kindness. The media drives selfishness, but you can’t change that system because without it people wouldn’t have jobs.
It’s a shitty world really, tinged with slithers of beauty and compassion. But it’s not enough.
Be thankful you have some or all of the following: Your health, your family, your friends, a place to rest your head at night, a home, warmth, food, all those things we take for granted. Because without them we would want to know how the system and society failed us too. You never know when the jagged teeth of fate will bite you on your ass as it does to so many of those nameless people we watch on the tellybox every evening.
So I invite you to take a moment to look at the images below and spare a thought for those who had a shitty 2011, and be thankful for what you have. I may paint a picture of doom and gloom but everywhere there are acts of heroism and kindness.
Slain Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson’s dog “Hawkeye” lies next to his casket during funeral services in Rockford, Iowa. Tumilson was one of 30 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan on August 6 when their helicopter was shot down during a mission to help fellow troops who had come under fire.
Australian Scott Jones kisses his Canadian girlfriend Alex Thomas after she was knocked to the ground by a police officer’s riot shield in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canadians rioted after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins.
September 17, 2011. Occupy Wall Street protesters march and hold signs in New York City. Protesters spoke out against corporate greed and social inequality sparking a protest movement that spread across the world.
August 28, 2011. Billy Stinson comforts his daughter Erin Stinson as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood on in Nags Head, N.C. The cottage, built in 1903 and destroyed by Hurricane Irene, was one of the first vacation cottages built on Albemarle Sound in Nags Head.
A woman cries while sitting on a road amid the destroyed city of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan after the massive earthquake and tsunami.
A U.S. Army soldier takes five with an Afghan boy during a patrol in Pul-e Alam, a town in Logar province, eastern Afghanistan.
December 6, 2011. A couple embraces as soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division are greeted by family, friends and loved ones at their redeployment ceremony at Wheeler Gulch, Wheeler Army Airfield in Wahiawa, Hawaii. U.S. forces are withdrawing from Iraq after an eight year presence in the country and communities in Hawaii are welcoming soldiers home.
April 1, 2011. Members of the Japan Coast Guard rescue a dog after it was found drifting on the roof of a tsunami-wrecked house floating off Kesennuma, northeastern Japan. The dog wore a collar, but there was no address on it.
April 28, 2011. Andy Page cries as he sits with his cat, Ellie, placed in a pet carrier, in his demolished apartment in Trenton, Georgia, after overnight storms hit the North Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee, area. Page has several cats and Ellie was the last one he was looking for.
July 25, 2011. People gather outside Oslo City Hall to participate in a “rose march” in memory of the victims of the July 22 bomb attack and shooting massacre in Norway. Gunman Anders Behring Breivik has admitted bombing Norway’s capital and opening fire on a political youth group retreat, but he entered a plea of not guilty, saying he wanted to save Europe from Muslim immigration. In November, Breivik was declared insane, and now faces compulsory psychiatric treatment, possibly for the remainder of his life.
October 1, 2011. A woman walks into a spray of water to escape the heat during the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.