It was only 3 weeks ago.
It is hard to believe it was only 3 weeks ago when so much of the world woke to a shock they will never forget, yet one that so, so many wish that they could.
The map was red, undeniably, unquestionably, irreversibly red. He had won. The Republican candidate was now to be referred to as ‘President Elect, Donald Trump’.
Hundreds of millions across the US, and the world, woke to shock. Time-freezing, ‘you will never forget where you were when…’ shock. The people had spoken. The American elite will no longer lead. Now it was time for the power of the people to rise, and govern. The relieved souls: US-based in the main.
For the rest, it was shock and awe. The dawn was to bring a map bathed in blue. The responsibility of the right to vote was wisely to rise over the unprecedented theatrics of the 2016 US Presidential campaigns. The moment of truth was to reveal a choice in favour of experience, stability, global sensibility, and decency over disruption and disrespect. The polling booths were to be the moment when the country (and world) switched channels, resuming regular programming, the reality show having come to its final, dramatic episode.
But it was not to be the case.
Sunrise brought the rise of dismay. And angst. And tears. Could this be true? Have the American people chosen this man, this character, as representative of the nation’s vision, identity and ethos?
2016 has been a year beyond fiction, beyond feeling, and beyond logic, in so many ways.
First came the continued tragedy of the Refugee and Migrant crisis. Then Brexit. Then the US Elections. The people have spoken once more. And their words, their wishes, are expressions of a desire for profound change, with separation at the centre of their sense of stability, security and future opportunity.
The feeling of ‘how can this happen? really was like deja vu all over again……
Which begs the question: what do the events of 2016 say about us, each of us, as a citizen of the global community? The choices we make in terms of:
- What attracts our attention?
- What pokes us in the eye, stirring up our compassion?
- What forces us to take a stand, taking action?
- And at the same times, what goes unnoticed?
Today, months after Brexit, days after the US Presidential Elections, seconds since the latest crisis, our attention is pulled in so many directions. But actually, none at all. The intensity of activity turns to a numbness. There is just so much noise that it is simply easier, and understandable, to cover one’s ears and walk away.
But if there is anything that Brexit, the US Presidential Elections, and so many other tests have proven, we cannot, simply cannot, turn away. What may seem the path of least resistance is, in fact, the path of apathetic abandonment of responsibility.
What is happening is not ok.
What is being ignored is not ok.
Turning away, covering our ears, walking on, is not ok.
Never, ever, should it take the lifeless body a tiny Syrian toddler named Aylan on Turkish shores to draw the attention of people of the world to the plight of others. ‘Syria’ has become a symbol of abandonment. ‘Trump’ has become a synonym of populism. ‘2016’ has become a page in history punctuated with disbelief…the ‘Word of the Year’ most consistently expressed in 4 letters, the first being an F, the rest best not put in print but rightly assumed.
So where are we now? What have we learned? What difference will 2016 really make?
If anything, one can only hope, it will be the need to do everything possible, sometimes defying instinct, to not turn away.
There is too much, too too much, happening every day everywhere around us, trying to create a global community of enemies. That is not who we are, and who we are meant to be.
Whoever we are, wherever we are in the world, our blood reveals immigrant ties. Our hearts reveal hope for a safer tomorrow.
Our better angels are fighting tirelessly to rise above. Because all lives matter.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2016
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) November 30, 2016