ITwo weeks post-Christmas, and already, your new year’s resolutions are as stale as the leftover shortbread. (What shortbread, you ask)? That post New Year glow of a shiny new start has been pummelled by the realities of your inbox. Already incomprehensible is the warm, fairy-lit glow of the festive break, now as far away as you wish the shockwaves of 2016 really were.
As well documented by the mainstream media – and slightly histrionic clickbait articles of many a digital news site – 2016 was indeed a tough year. Deepening political global divisions, with the birth (or reincarnation depending on how you look at it) of the alt-right. A socially loud but virtually let down younger generation. New hate figures emerged. Human rights were threatened, and hate speech and violence resurfaced.
Christmas came at the right time for such harsh realities; the much-needed comfort blanket at the end of a rough 365 days. Yet as much as gleefully caving in to our adult sugar addictions, and losing all sense of being in the space-time continuum between December 24th and the 31st is now sadly behind us, it’s the uplifting binge-watching of old-faithfuls that I’m missing most.
This year, more than most, I was drawn to the epics. Heroic struggles, told over generations, painting in moving pictures the ultimate human struggle (cue grandiose music) of love over hate. Yes, Harry Potter and Star Wars were my crutches this Christmas. When all was ugly outside, Han Solo’s charming wit and Ron Weasley’s hapless approach to disaster soothed my soul. Imperfect people, trying their damned best to make the world a better place.
I suspect I might not have been the only one seeking world-redeeming escapism, though…
Millions of people the world over love these stories. People have tuned in and turned their friends on to the struggles of the Rebel Alliance over decades. Millions coughed up to film studios and publishers to see the DA win, wands up. Hours of our lives spent, just to be a part of something greater, and see good triumph over evil. Box offices smashes and book sales tell their own stories. We all want to see the day saved.
So, how about this then? If Luke Skywalker can see beyond the dark side and love his horrid father, and the wizarding world progress without the wisdom and brilliance of Dumbledore in it (my bad on the spoilers) we can too. How hard can it be to summon our collective humanity for the sake of the world we live in, come together and face 2017? Even if Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher are no longer with us.
Yes, our heroes die. Glorious humans like Snape, who in real life advocated for his political beliefs, or Princess Leia, who shone a light on mental illness. Bowie for androgyny. Prince for sexual fluidity. George Michael, for being unabashedly gay. Through their lives, they made the world a more understanding, accepting and fairer place. Standing for something is important. The mass weeping for the icons we lost says it’s so.
Absolutely, bad guys change names and faces. Yet, the stories go on, or turn back, in the case of Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s no coincidence we looked back this Christmas. Burying our faces in the cosy warmth of nostalgia feels good, but all too soon, its January 1st, and the uncertainties of Brexit, an impending Trump administration and the ruckus in the Middle East are staring you in the face.
Source: The Radio Times
So, here’s my solution to facing the seeming doom of the new year. Bin your resolutions with the old shortbread, though perhaps recycle that tin. We have a planet to save, after all. Being realistic, very few of us actually lose that weight. Do we think Hagrid worried about love handles? No. OK then. Pick something you think the world needs. Find people who feel the same, and if someone is already doing something about it, help them out.
If not, organise. It can be as small as you and your mates giving a piece of fruit to a homeless person every day, or as large as throwing a fundraiser to welcome Syrian refugees into your community. Email your MP and lobby them to support laws preventing violence against women. Have a conversation with a person of another political persuasion to debate and challenge yours and their point of view.
You can do anything, but do something. Something to make 2017 and beyond a little better for everyone. Hell knows, we need it, and if you’re ever feeling down-hearted or in doubt of your effort paying off, chuck Star Wars on or read Harry Potter. Captain Cassian Andor and Hermione Granger know what they’re doing, as do Emma Watson and Diego Luna. They’re writing new stories. Let’s do what we can to pitch in.