In this, the last half of the last month of 2015, people are beginning to pass judgment on the past year. Was it like the opening of Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities, both the best of time and the worst of times? Perhaps it depends on whether or not you’re a Republican running for president.
Time magazine named German Chancellor Angela Merkle as their Person of the Year. Her leadership role in Europe, especially on the refugee crisis, comes across as a positive force in the world. But next in line was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS (definitely a negative), Donald Trump (seems pretty negative right now), the civil-rights movement Black Lives Matter (could be a positive in the long run), Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (let’s hope for an eventual positive), Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (wait until the dust settles), and Caitlyn Jenner (?). Is there a pattern here?
The best analysis of 2015 I’ve seen so far is the Upfront column in the December 21, 2015 issue of The Christian Science Monitor. Entitled “Looking at 2015…and at 2015”, it begins —
“How do you feel about 2015? If you base your answer on what the world was worried about, the year was lousy…. Let’s take a look at another year. I’d suggest … 2015.”
Yes, there was much good news this year. The column goes on to tick them off. Violent crime remained at a 20-year low. Emissions of greenhouse gases fell slightly. Infant mortality continued to drop. There were 200 million fewer hungry people in the world than in 1990, despite the population increasing by 2 billion. The percentage of people living in extreme poverty was below 10 percent, as opposed to 37 percent in 1990. And so it goes.
Watching the nightly news, not to mention presidential debates, is an easy way to get discouraged. But maybe we’re making progress after all.
The Time magazine cover story can be found at http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2015-angela-merkel-choice/