Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/12/2015 (2374 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If it’s true human nature never changes, can we reasonably expect one year to be different from the next?
Optimists believe progress is real, even if it is measured in micro fractions, while pessimists says technology and education have merely pro-vided new ways of achieving old ends, including the efficiency of modern killing machines.
Looking back on 2015, it seems the optimists and pessimists can both claim some victories.
In politics, there were major shifts in Canada. Former Alberta premier Jim Prentice, smelling an easy victory, called an early election in April, only to be thumped by the NDP’s Rachel Notley. It was a victory against old-style, cynical politics.
Conservative Stephen Harper gambled on a long election and a strategy that portrayed Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as a bratty adolescent who wasn’t ready for prime time. The pundits predicted a minority government, but the people proved them wrong, again.
On racism, the peaceable kingdom was dealt a devastating blow with the release of the report and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It exposed a violent part of Canada’s history that was largely unknown.
And yet, despite the heart-wrenching story of how the country’s original peoples were abused and their culture destroyed, racism is still prevalent.
The optimists, however, point to changes in the education system and government commitments as evidence conditions will improve. Like smoking, racism will eventually be viewed as obnoxious, something bigots only do in the privacy of their lavatory.
It is possible to feel optimistic about the future of Canada’s relations with First Nations, although success is more likely to be measured in decades, rather than years.
And what of poverty? It is still a persistent problem. Some 400 people are homeless in Winnipeg and another 1,300 on the verge of living on the street. Solutions are out there, but the will is weak. At least the conversation is energetic and passion-ate.
There was also a new beginning on climate change. The recent conference in Paris did not legislate hard targets, but it forces the world’s polluters to report back in three years, and every five years thereafter, on their progress.
It’s a small step forward and a recognition that major problems hundreds of years in the making will not be solved in a few years.
In world affairs, the Islamic State’s campaign to destabilize the world order took a bloodier turn with attacks on Paris and the destruction of a Russian jetliner. The world vowed revenge through more aerial bombing and the threat of ground troops, but they seemed like futile gestures and pointed again to the limits of western power.
Military strategists were finally admitting they could not kill their way to victory, and more telling, that maybe they had underestimated and failed to understand their enemy.
The fear of terrorism evoked some ugly responses, particularly in the United States, where anti-Muslim xenophobia erupt-ed across the land.
As a new year begins, the arrival of thousands of Syrian refugees seems to have boosted the Canadian spirit. There was lit-tle interest in their plight until a photo in September showed a Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, who drowned trying to escape to safety. Such is the power of a single photograph.
Looking back, it was a year of dramatic developments in many areas, particularly politics and issues affecting aboriginal peoples.
The state of the economy is discouraging, but Canada has been in this position before and recovered. As a nation, there is much for which to be grateful.
Happy New Year.