Well, 2016 was a wonderful year….for Vladimir Putin.
All his wishes came true. His best mate won the White House, Europe fell into a state of confusion and then oil prices went up, increasing Russia’s revenue. Everything’s been just peachy for old Vlad.
Doesn’t it make you feel good all over?
Like a lot of people
I’ve been pretty shocked by many of the events in 2016. And some people are predicting more of the same in 2017. As the pop star James Blunt said on his Twitter feed a few weeks ago: “If you thought 2016 was bad – I’m releasing an album in 2017” 🙂
Just to add to our joys, the happy people at Bloomberg have created their ‘Pessimist’s Guide to 2017’ which has a long list of reasons not to be cheerful this year (don’t bother reading it if you need a lift. There aren’t many laughs in it.)
So, yes, we could be in for a bit of a bumpy ride this year and it’s easy to feel helpless and hopeless wondering how ‘little me’ can do anything about it.
But the world is made up of individuals and, if you just think about a few key ones who have altered history, it’s clear that just one person can rock the world, even when the age seems to be against them.
So how can we deal with what may or may not be this year?
I was impressed
By what Princess Anne said of her parents in ’‘The Queen at 90’ documentary on the BBC recently. She said that part of their long and successful lives was a willingness to adjust to changing circumstances. Things changed around them each year and they adjusted accordingly.
That flexibility, the ability to move as things seem to change and shift around us, is something we can all have if we’re willing.
Not that we should ‘adjust’ our fundamental principles. Not at all. In fact I’ve found that as things shift around us that’s when we need to go deeper into what is real and fundamental to life. Living more of the simple, humane qualities that we all love in others has a quiet, seismic effect on those around us and, therefore, on the world.
In fact, the useful thing about tough times – if we respond to them well – is that they can make us grow and succeed in a way we wouldn’t have imagined possible before.
My friend, the poet Lemn Sissay, who grew up in various children’s homes and foster care, set up Christmas day parties around the UK for young people who have recently left care. He knew how miserable the day could be for them and decided to meet that need. You can see more about it here.
Lemn could have, quite reasonably, allowed the neglect and cruelties he endured growing up to narrow and flatten him. But he didn’t.
Because he loved, these experiences lifted him up. He is hugely successful personally already and, through these parties and other activities, his good effects are rippling out into the world through more and more lives.
It’s the sort of thing any of us can do in some way. It just takes a bit of sacrifice (not really even a lot of that) and a willingness to meet human needs as they appear around us.
My friend John said to me recently that he wanted to find more opportunities to help his community this year. He said “I want to kick some ethical arse”.
And why not? Whatever the year throws at us – and particularly if it throws a lots that we’d rather not have – let’s go kick some ethical arse in any way we can!
What are your predictions for this year? Do you think it’s going to be fun or tricky?
Do you have ideas for ‘kicking some ethical arse’?
Tell me what you think about these ideas in the comments section below.