The View From Here – The New Year is a frontier offering both a retrospective and prospective world-view

Tom Henihan
The New Year is in reality an uninterrupted flow of personal concerns, pivotal and mundane events that continue from the end of one year to the beginning of another.

Our Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar, which functions in accordance with the position of the earth in its revolution around the sun or the sun moving on the celestial sphere.

Essentially, the New Year marks the completion of one cycle and the beginning of another.

On a personal level, New Year’s resolutions mirror that celestial beginning and end cycle as we resolve to bring to an end one phase of behaviour and initiate the beginning of another.

Although the New Year may be a mundane continuum, a transition not experienced in any profound, tangible way, we still feel compelled to ritualize and celebrate that transition by partying, fireworks and various kinds of excess and fanfare.

Seminal events define each passing year. There are also personal milestones, marriage, the birth of children, graduations and solemn landmarks such as divorce and death.

In 2016, destructive and bloody world events were all too frequent.

There were also negative social and political trends with many countries moving towards a dark, insular form of nationalism roused by fear and hatred of others.

With such continuous violence it is easy to overlook the positive developments that also took place.

Iran moving forward in dismantling its nuclear weapons program allowed for the immediate lifting of UN sanctions, which is seen by most as a positive development though not everyone agrees.

In the first meeting between leaders of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches since the Orthodox Church seceded in 1054, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill signed a Ecumenical Declaration on February 12, in Cuba.

That the meeting took place in Cuba was also a positive, symbolic gesture that points towards other overtures of reconciliation.

There were some firsts also, with American singer-songwriter legend Bob Dylan being awarded the Noble Prize for literature.

The year also marked the passing of an inordinate number of people in the arts and culture world, with the death of musician David Bowie in January followed by luminaries and legends like Prince and Merle Haggard.

There was also the December 27 death of writer and actor Carrie Fisher at the age of 60 and the death of her mother actor Debbie Reynolds the following day.

A profound loss for Canada and for people around the world was the death of Montreal born singer songwriter, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen whose unique contribution to the art of song writing will continue to live on especially in such songs as the spiritual anthem ‘Hallelujah.’

Other renowned Canadians who passed away this year are Gordie Howe and actor Alan Thicke.

Here in Alberta, we lost two former premiers, Don Getty and Jim Prentice.

Getty who served as premier between 1985 and 1992 passed away on February 26. Jim Prentice who served in 2014 – 2015, died in a tragic plane crash on October 13.

The passing of so many celebrated individuals, a number of them relatively young, should remind us, how without warning we can be “shuffled off this moras coil.” So, approaching 2017, we should resolve to put things in perspective and make courageous efforts to fulfill our aspirations.

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