After a long reflection with a dear friend about some difficult events she had encountered in 2017, she ended with the typical statement, “let’s hope 2018 will be a better year.” I don’t know why this statement sounds to me as one full of defeat and hopelessness. It is a statement that many people repeat one year after another, even though they know deep inside that it is a fake form of optimism we console ourselves with, like a scared child singing in a dark alley to keep himself distracted from darkness. It is a way to seek solace about the fact that most of us are held hostages in the hands of few oppressive political and economic elites suffocating us. So, let’s get directly to the bad news without fooling ourselves further: 2018 won’t be new or happy while we are being ruled by the same war-mongers seeking to destroy everything meaningful and beautiful on our precious earth.
Those in power love it when we hold on to our fake optimism year after year, instead of revolting against these worn out celebrations. They love it when they see millions of mindless consumers storming stores to buy and consume more shiny and glittering gifts, as if they are genuine signs of loving and caring for each other. They love it when we keep quiet and do business as usual while “hoping for a better new year.” So, let’s declare it loud and clear: We are not happy! Also, there is nothing new with these traditional celebrations hijacked by businessmen who have reduced them into nothing more than an excuse for consuming goods. We need to change that by revolting as Jesus did at the temple when he drove out in a justified anger all those who were selling and buying there. Christmas and New Year should not be a temporary dose of heroine to sedate people and have them consume more goods, go on vacations, or sit with family and friends at the dinner tables of triviality to boast presumed “achievements” or share pathetic stories about “changing the world”.
As such, the question most worthy of pondering, as we get ready to bury the body of another precious year is: Can a new year really be happy with all this injustice going on in the world under our watch? This is not an analytical or an academic question. It is a dark reality that should be painfully obvious to any person with a beating heart. If there is any accuracy to William Faulkner’s words in that “the past is never dead. It is not even past,” then it follows that 2018 won’t be a happy year as long as the causes of human misery, wars, and destruction still exist, and so long many humans keep their mouths and eyes shut before all this injustice for temporary and pathetic gains.
The New Year won’t be a happy one so long as those waging economic wars and wars with bombs are still not held accountable for their crimes against humanity. 2018 won’t be a happy or a new one so long as we continue to be enslaved by the discriminatory laws enacted by those who have enough money and power to break them all whenever they please. 2018 won’t be a good year so long as we don’t hold accountable those who think they have the right to displace and ruin millions of human lives; or cut parts of different countries like a piece of cloth according to their whims, religious beliefs, or political interests. The coming year won’t be a happy one so long as many of us choose to turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed against millions of precious human lives in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, the list could go on. The New Year won’t be a happy one so long as we passively accept the starvation and suffering of millions of innocent human lives subjected to the most inhumane economic sanctions imposed on them like it was done to the Iraqi people for 13 years. Like it is being done today to millions of innocent humans in Russia, North Korea, and Iran. And, by the way, the countries listed above are not “dirty” names we should fear pronouncing, writing, or sympathizing with, as the oppressive Western powers and propaganda want us to believe. Every country is a sacred ground as long as there is a single innocent human life inhabiting it. As an Iraqi-American, I know that most so-called “expert” narratives that paved the way to the Iraq war were outright false. Therefore, I have no reason to believe similar propaganda promoted today about all the countries listed above, either. Like any others in this world, these countries are filled with precious human lives and innocent people wishing for a more tolerable world.
Happy New Year? Oh, dear friends, this statement is like a dagger that gets pushed one inch deeper into my chest each time I hear it. I don’t know why it reminds me of Erich Maria Remarque’s words who writes in All Quiet on the Western Front, “Sweet dreams though the guns are booming.” At this time of the year, this statement should be revised to be “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year though the guns are booming!” We should then display it on every home, every school, every shop, and at the corner of every street to remind ourselves of our sad human reality before which we continue to stand motionless and unable to take brave actions.
Oh, my friends, let’s not celebrate the traditional holidays that no longer mean anything to many of us. Let’s find a new celebration day to celebrate every human life. Let’s do away with all celebrations imposed on us by the oppressive political and religious establishments around the world. In 2018, let’s stop consuming. Let’s stop killing each other. Let’s stop waging wars against each other. Let’s stop imposing economic sanctions on each other. Let’s stop closing borders in the face of each other. Let’s do away with all the fake, expensive, shiny, and nicely wrapped gifts of indifference. Let’s work a bit harder on the most precious human gift possible—the gift of listening carefully to each other.
Oh, my friends, please don’t ask me about my “resolutions” for 2018. I may disappoint you as I don’t have any plans for joining a new gym, following a healthy organic diet, buying a new car, remodeling my kitchen, or going on a fancy cruise. My resolution for 2018 is, despite all my despair, to continue to build bridges with my alphabet to help us get over the unquantifiable hate, racism, and inequality on this lonely planet. In 2018, let’s stop wars and violence. Let’s be resolved to unite humanity in a genuine way, not in the artificial and exploitative way through which globalization-promoters seek to turn this world into one small village for the selected rich and powerful to control and plunder. In the meantime, until humanity begins heading in that direction, perhaps we should not wish each other a Happy New Year. Given the discouraging events of 2017 and the previous years, 2018 will just be a continuation of pain and suffering if we continue operating with the same mindsets. Therefore, for now, let me declare loudly once again: I am neither happy nor is there anything new under the sun.