Thursday, December 31, 2015

So Long 2015, You Bastard! (Angry, Bitter Edition)


My initial review of the year 2015 was not very positive.  Of course, tongue was firmly lodged into cheek with a critique of a year barely hours old, a comment on the "instant gratification is too slow" mentality that guides our modern culture. 

But looking at 2015 from the other end of the spectrum, from the last day of a 365 day slog, its hard not to look back at the year, sigh and slouch your shoulders. 

Death is a part of that whole "circle of life" thing but Death seemed to have a particularly hard stranglehold on the past year with outrageous acts of bloody violence.   

In January, the massacre at the offices of the French humor magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris took 9 lives on the day of the attack by Muslim extremists connected to al Qaeda. Six more lives lost in the two days following. In November, Muslim extremists, this time connected to ISIS, reared their ugly head to take the lives of 130 people. 

In the middle east, ISIS continues a daily reign of terror and murder against the people of that region which has contributed to the mass of refugees fleeing from Syria and the surrounding region. If people are being killed by ISIS directly, the hundreds, thousands have lost their lives making the treacherous crossings into Europe.  Nations have been divided on how to deal with this refugee crisis. Despite the acts of terror in January and November, France remained committed to taking in refugees. Germany has likewise been a open bastion of relief to the tide of people seeking to escape the violence of their homeland. Other countries, however, have taken harder lines and sealed their borders. In the country founded by immigrants and refugees, the United States, political forces have spoken out against providing aid to these people, stoking fires of hate and fear.  

The slaughter in San Bernadino, CA seemed to give credence to those fears. A married Muslim couple went on a rampage of murder, incited by their radicalization, a condition that seemed to have passed unnoticed by a lot of people. This case does bring up a legitimate fear, that radicalization of Muslims can occur almost anywhere and with little or no warning. One of the shooters was an American born citizen underscores that very real concern even as it undermines those who argue against helping refugees. 

What too many people in the United States want to ignore is that most of the danger posed to us by violence comes from within. With mass shootings at a community college Roseburg OR, a movie theater in Lafayette LA, a Marine recruitment office in Chattanooga TN, Charleston, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorardo and the social services office in San Bernardino and more, the United States racked up 57 mass shooting incidents in 2015.  

By the way, a mass shooting is defined by three or more fatalities.  The live on-air murder Roanoke VA TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward in August missed that cut with "only" two deaths. 

Add to all that the hundreds killed in individual incidents of gun related homicides and death had a pretty good year in 2015.  

Meanwhile, in additions to the new tallies added to the list of the dead for 2015, part of the year was spent cleaning up after the slaughters of previous years. In April, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty of all 30 charges that he faced in connection to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Meanwhile James Holmes, the shooter who opened fire inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, was found guilty in July of killing 12 people in the rampage. 

The year was not all bad. There were signs of change and enlightenment that point to a more positive sense of hope for the future. Who knows, we may have a future to look forward to. 

You know, if we don't kill ourselves first. 

So I raise a glass and bid farewell to the year that moves into history. So long 2015, you bastard.  

















Now to go get drunk....

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