2017 – A Reflection

As we come to the end of the year it also comes time for each of us to reflect on what has happened in and during the 365 days of the year 2017

To say this year has been spectacularly different to the previous sixty eight years of my existence would in itself be an understatement for the very simply reason that it has been surreal.

If this time last year someone had forecast the events that were to unfold they would have been accused of either being delusional or at the very least having an over active imagination – except of course no-one and I really do mean no-one could have imagined this was to be the future

I used to think – going further back in time to the 1960’s when I was a teenager – that the future was going to be exciting but even I and my contemporaries could never imagine the changes we have seen.

We had Tomorrow’s World talking about the magic of fax machines, of desk top computers and the possibility of mobile telephones the size of two house bricks all of which came about but are now consigned to the museum of technological advance.

It was two years into my electrical apprenticeship that technology – well as far as I was concerned – changed the year was 1966 and as everyone else we were brought up to believe that electricity flowed from positive to negative when suddenly we were told that electron flow was the reverse from negative to positive

This was the start of technological advancement from diode, triode and pentode valves to the transistors and thyristors on which our world is now based

Only three years later with a combination of old and new technology a man was sent and stepped on the moon perhaps even more importantly they were also brought safely back.

In the meantime back on planet Earth Elvis was on the way out to be replaced by the Beatles, Stones, Who and Small Faces – Mods drove Scooters – Rockers drove motorbikes – we wore bell bottomed trousers with bells actually sewn on them with parka jackets or sky blue jeans and leather jackets with studs

We imagined a world in which everyone had a meaningful job, a home and where the racism and fascism of the past would be just that – a thing of the past consigned into the annals of history.

My generation was going to change the world – there was going to be no more world wars for us – and woe betide the crinklies who tried to tell us we were delusional dreamers.
So what did happen this year?

Have we created a world in which our grandson – who incidentally was born in February this year – would grow up in a politically, culturally, technologically and ideological utopia?

Sadly it isn’t and in reality we appear to have actually gone backwards by at least half a century in everything with the exception of technology.

It has been a year in which the indignities and abuse that minorities and women have had to and still continue to suffer from have finally come to light through the courage of those prepared to stand up and speak up

But it has also been a year that has revealed the decades of cover ups and silence brought about by fear and shame.

It may also – and I realise this is controversial – be that some remained silent because they put their own careers and desire for fame and wealth before anything else.

Sadly the perpetrators are invariably men of my generation who have abused and continue to abuse their positions.

Whatever happened to the dreams we had in the years of the Isle of Wight Festival, or the first Glastonbury or our idealism marching against the Vietnam War, for Civil Rights and against the injustices of the laws that criminalised the LBGT community?

We were angry, sarcastic and full of idealism that the future was going to be fantastically equal and free from injustices at all levels.

Bloody hell fire we even had Steve McQueen the coolest man who had ever lived – though his first name was really Terence (not cool enough for Hollywood) –

So what an earth could possibly go wrong.

In the UK of course we had our own alter – hero in Michael Caine playing Alfie.

I for one certainly didn’t imagine that in 2017 I’d find myself having to explain and even more annoyingly defend my generations attitude to race, nationality, immigration global warming, sexual harassment, freedom of speech and the press and just about everything else you can think of.

All I suppose I can really say is – “What the fuck happened”.

How did we end up with the society in the world that in 2017 is so far removed from the modern, carbon free sleek “one world mankind” we were convinced we were going to create.

For all of the technological advancement where we can even talk to people on the other side of the planet at the touch of our fingertips this year has revealed that mankind is as stupid as it has ever been

How else can I and my generation explain the flagrant racism and fascism that we are seeing on the rise across the world and especially the western democracies?

How else can I and my generation explain the issues we have with gender and identity politics and discrimination and the sexual exploitation of people across the world

How can I and my generation explain how the USA in what can only have been a fit of collective delusional insanity elected a low grade second rate ignorant celebrity to be the President of the USA?

How can I and my generation explain how one of the biggest trades in the world is that in arms designed to do nothing more than kill people?

And not to be left out here in the UK how do I explain that Michael Gove, Boris Johnstone, Theresa May and David Davies – all of my generation – are actually the Government

As for “Flower Power” and “Give Peace a Chance” this year has raised and increased the tensions and possibility of major conflicts on the Korean Peninsula and Middle East both of which have common denominators, a madman as leader of North Korea and an equally dangerous leader of Israel.

Of course the other common denominator is the ultra-unintelligent and unstable President of the United States of America aided by an equally self-serving Republican Party.

Whether the fears of them developing into a world wide war will be realised only time will tell but I would hope and would certainly get involved in protesting against the United Kingdom going to war in support of a Trump America.

Not that I or the UK are really in a position to criticise those who voted for Trump when so many ‘Brits’ continue to support and vote for a Government and the likes of Nigel Farage who have no idea what the outcome of Brexit is going to be or in fact what they want or have ever wanted it to be.

2017 may well go down in history not as the year of the imminent disaster for humanity or the final decline of the UK and the USA but the one that prepared the way for it to happen in 2018.

I’ve never gone out of my way to hide my political beliefs or that I believe in political activism neither am I someone who has an overinflated sense of my own self importance to the extent that what I say or write has an impact on the opinions held by others.

And anyway why would or even should people take note of what I or in fact anyone else says or writes in a world where it has been conclusively proved that people don’t like being told what believe to do or to think preferring to leave it to others

The result is a rise in National Leaders who simply believe – and in fact with some validity – that they can do exactly what they want unchallenged by those they claim to represent

In my country the disparity between those with wealth and the poor has grown exponentially this year with not so much as a murmur of opposition or protest from the majority of the population.

The rich blame the poor for not working hard enough or not being sufficiently ambitious enough – good grief our Chancellor of the Exchequer even blamed the disabled for low productivity – whilst conveniently forgetting that they suppress wages whilst increasing their own wealth by not paying taxes

“Let’s look for someone to blame” is the slogan of 2017 and who better than the poor and minorities especially if they happen to be ‘foreign’ or of a different ‘religious persuasion’ or even a different ‘skin tone’.

The children of today face a lifetime of discrimination and stereotyping based on their colour, religion, nationality or gender.

I fear for those whose life encompasses all four.

The problem is the increased ability to instantly communicate with millions at any time of the day and night has also brought with it a communication paranoia and the ability to instantly spread lies across the globe

I absolutely refuse to acknowledge the term ‘alternative facts’ – those who use it should instantly and immediately be rebuked with the clear question – “So you are lying then”.

My generation really believed and imagined that as the world grew smaller and people moved freely about the globe we would see a brilliantly integrated world where everyone irrespective of culture would live in harmony

Today despite the fact that technology and globalisation has taken place we are still faced with frontiers and barriers based on ethnicity and culture where raw tribalism still prevails.

The problem of course is how could my generation even start to prepare for the world of 2017 when we couldn’t even in our wildest of dreams have imagined it.

Worse still it is our world, a world we couldn’t imagine but one that we have built for which we should unreservedly apologise to the younger generation and hope that they will learn from our mistakes and rectify them.

And yet there is hope – as there will always be – 

I see hope in the fact that every single ‘political nominee’ for office in the USA endorsed by Donald Trump has failed to be elected

I see hope in the recent UK Government vote that it will be the whole of parliament who will by an Act of Parliament decided on the final agreement on the UK leaving the European Union.

I see hope in the number of countries agreeing to co-operate on addressing the problem of Global Warming

I see hope in the number of those who are starting to speak out against abuse inequality and injustices.

And I see hope in the number of the next generation of who will be leaders who can imagine a world in which human life is valued and where their first instinct is to look for what is good in those they meet

Perhaps after all 2017 is a watershed moment in time where we have hit the bottom and 2018 will be the year when a new world of tolerance, equality and fairness will start to be built on the decaying foundations of the past

Every assumption and instinct I have is that it won’t be but that doesn’t prevent me from hoping and imagining that it will for one very stark and simple reason –

The alternative is unimaginable.

Happy and Peaceful 2018 everyone.