An Ode to Another Year Gone By

Posted: 31 December 2013 in Thoughts
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Another year has come to an end and I am still alive. Not that I do any too outrageously insane that could end in my imminent death, but more because of the increasing craziness of the world we live in. And boy has this world gotten even crazier.

Here’s my take on some of the big stories that were reported on in the world:

Russia has had quite the year and not for the better. In February there was the meteor that caused massive damage near Chelyabinsk. I remember seeing one of the videos of the meteor and the shock wave right after. Insane!

Then there was the anti-gay law enacted sometime in the middle of the year. With the Winter Olympics looming, this law has garnered quick the opposition from the Western world. Now, I knew about the law, but I wasn’t exactly sure what it entailed so I read up on it. From what I understand, it is outlawing the promotion of ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations’ i.e. gay relations. It is ok to be gay and all that, it just isn’t ok to distribute information about anything to do with it. But it is only against the law if it is distributed to minors. But since minors have infinitesimal methods to acquiring information, they might as well have made it illegal to distribute information to anybody.

So what is my opinion on this you ask? Well it sort of reminds me of ‘V for Vendetta.’ I love that film (one of my top 5) and the totalitarianistic regime is eerily identical to what is starting there (the members of Pussy Riot going prison for opposing Putin ring a bell). The claim is that he is trying to promote traditional Russian values. That would work if their traditional values include hate and un-Christlike treatment of people. What I have found so disturbing is that while these people (and I mean the broad sense of people and not just the Russians) fight for ‘tradition’, they forget (if they ever knew) what it means to truly be Christian. It is sad to see people trying to destroy lives and take away rights from people who aren’t the entire problem (yes they are part of it). The problem with the loss of traditional values is that traditions change. Life evolves. Couples don’t always want kids and marriage isn’t always desired. Rather than propagating traditions of hate and fear, maybe they should propagate compassion, tolerance and love, the actual Christlike traditions the profess to be promoting.

Then in June Edward Snowden exposed operations engaged by a US government mass surveillance program to the media before fleeing the country. Where did he go? Russia. And they granted him asylum to a very disappointed White House. Of course this would only be the first exposure for America in regards to surveillance. It would pop up again later in October when it is discovered that the USA has been essentially spying on the German government. Now, you hear all the conspiracy theorists claiming that ‘the government is watching you’ and it appears they weren’t exactly wrong. The question now comes to whether or not it is ethical. I understand that America likes to constantly have the upper hand and yes I do know that America thinks they are better than every single country on the planet, which thus entitles them to do whatever the hell the want (which no I do not agree with), but does that mean they should? Is spying ever justified? I think no, especially not on your friends. It shows a complete lack of trust. I get that there are threats, both imagined and very real, but do you really think this is giving the world a good image of the USA? Of course not. I was so nervous about going to England because I thought people would treat me differently (badly) because I was American. I shouldn’t have to rely on my ability to pick up accents to ensure that people in other countries don’t instantly start up with the typical prejudices because of where I come from. It is also for the same reason I don’t tell people at first that I was raised in Utah. It isn’t because I am ashamed. It is because I am not a stereotype and yes I will do what it takes to defy them and prove we are not all the same. Anyway, I digress.

Lastly for Russia, we have the bombings in Volgograd (once called Stalingrad) in October and two days ago. No one has claimed responsibility for the latest suicide bombing. All this (and the aforementioned law) within months of the Olympics. While I would love to go see Russia, it seems to be turning into a more dangerous place than it is worth. In fact, many people have been calling for a boycott of the Olympics. Don’t really know what that would achieve, but whatever.

In February, the inspiration known around the world as the ‘Blade Runner’ was arrested for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. I was personally stunned by this as I was (am) a fan of his. There is so much that is tragic about this. First is the obvious loss of life. Most important is hers. Next is his. No he is not dead, but he has to live the reality that he killed her. It may have been accidental (the trial is next March), which only makes it that much worse and tragic. Whatever comes of the trial, no one win ever really win.

Also in February, we saw Pope Benedict XVI resign, something not seen for nearly 600 years. Craziness. His successor was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, now know as Pope Francis. He is the first from the Americas and from the Souther Hemisphere. First off, I had no idea a pope could resign. I’m not catholic, so how the whole leadership thing is kind of confusing to me. I did have a nice chat with a Brother Richard of the Society of our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity as I flew home from spending Christmas with my family and friends in Utah. He explained a little of it to me. Interesting how it is similar to how my church works. I am mormon for those wondering. Anyway. To me, the pope resigning would be similar to our prophet resigning. It doesn’t (and for the prophet cannot) happen. Once you are called, that’s it. Guess not. Well I like the new pope. I have thoroughly been impressed with him. He has truly expressed the Christlike attributes the world needs to see. Hopefully his actions and words will resonate with people and they will begin to be less hateful (and I mean everyone).

In April, the Boston Marathon was marred by the bombing by Chechen brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Three people died and hundreds were injured. An intense manhunt ensued which ended in Tamerlan dead and his brother behind bars. There was so much about this event that fuelled various emotions. I was proud of the uncle that said the boys deserved what they got/are getting. And I was afraid at the backlash the Islamic community could get from another bombing. Thankfully there was little. I was also heartened by the response of disgust by the muslim community, especially by the leaders.

The year was filled with news of the war in Syria and demonstrations in Egypt leading to the deposing of previous president Mohamed Morsi. There was the mall shooting in Nigeria which left around 62 people dead. I really want to see some of these countries, but holy hell. Tone down the insanity please.

And then tragedy struck the Philippines when Hurricane Haiyan struck killing of 6000 people. As heartbreaking as it was, it was incredible to see how people banded together to aid those suffering in some distant country thousands of miles away. The UK raised over £13m in the first 24-hours alone. Such mass selflessness reminds me of when Haiti was devastated by the earthquake. It is truly inspiring to see humanity unite.

Notable deaths were of the likes of Hugo Chavez, Richard Griffiths, Roger Ebert, Margaret Thatcher, Tom Clancy, Paul Walker, and the unforgettable Nelson Mandela.

But this year hasn’t had only bad news. Prince George was born to Prince WIlliam and Catherine. There were stories of inspiration, compassion, and true humanity. I loved the story of the marine who slowed down during a 5k to ensure a 9-year old boy was not alone when he crossed the finish line. How many people would do that? There were many stories of kind patrons giving immense (monetary) tips to servers or people buying the meals of others simple to be good people or shoe compassion to someone suffering or in need.

Then there is the continuous coverage of the courageous Malala. She is the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year for wanting to go to school and promoting education for girls/women. What bravery and strength this young girl possesses. Even after coming back from the brink of death, she is not even the slightest bit deterred from her desire for all girls in Pakistan to receive the basic human right to knowledge. I know I complain at times about the shoddy education I got growing up, but I never had to worry about not having it available to me because of my gender. The Western feminists of the 21st century have little to complain about.

There was a story about a woman returning a bag full of money she found because she wanted to teach her daughter an important lesson. Another shows a paralysed woman finally being able to walk down the aisle with the help of a walker. One story documented how and entire plane of around 35 people deboarded a plane after a blind man was escorted off due to his having a seeing-eye dog. A young boy and a father hear for the first time. A high school football team, including the opposing team, orchestrate a play to let a special needs teammate score his first ever touchdown. How beautiful that these youth understand the art of compassion and true love for another human being.

And in June, the Defence of Marriage Act was officially found unconstitutional. In fact, a couple weeks ago, more people were allowed to enjoy the rites of marriage when the same-sex marriage ban in Utah was struck down in the Supreme Court. While I do not agree with how it came about, ultimately I am happy that my LGBT brothers and sisters can now legally marry the ones they love. How amazing is that?

So how has this year fared for myself? Not too bad to be honest. I got to finally see NYC, DC, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and the Sacred Grove (mormon holy site). It was an amazing trip I would never have had had it not been for one of my best mates Jafar.

The rest of the year has been a roller coaster ride of emotions. Last year I started the application process to go back to school to get a usable degree (since Medieval English really hadn’t gotten me anywhere). After much toil, I was finally granted a place on the Magazine Journalism course at the University of Sheffield, which I accepted. There are many times I have wondered if this was the right choice. Not right after of course. I was excited and felt like I was doing the right thing. No, it was later. During the summer.

I turned 31 this year. I’ve heard many people say that while their 20s were fun and great, their 30s were incredible. It is probably because they were married and enjoying having children and all that. Well my 30s have started out much differently than I expected. Nor am I complaining about it. Firstly, I came out to my mom the day before my birthday (surprise to those that didn’t know. I’m bi!!!). It went so much better than I expected. She told my dad later (which I had told her was fine). I’m just going to put a bold statement here and say that I didn’t feel the need to come out with banners flaring and cannons shooting glitter. Sexuality is personal and not some badge of honour. It is not what distinguishes who you are. It is only a small part of who you are. If you have to use your sexuality to classify yourself, then you need to take some time to love yourself and discover who you really are. I am Chris. I learned this lesson a long time ago from my good friend Cole. You should be introduced as, ‘this is Chris’ rather than, ‘this is my bi friend Chris.’ If anything, I’d rather be categorised by what I do, not who, i.e. writer, footballer (soccer player), gamer, musician, etc. Anyway. I cam out to my parents and it has been incredible the feeling of lightness from that burden being gone. I wish I had done it years ago. I didn’t because of fear. I was afraid at what people would think or how they would react. I’m pleased to say, the older you get the easier it is to just say ‘f*** it, i just want to be happy.’

I met and started dating someone shortly thereafter (again private). I could not be more blessed with the amount of support my friends gave me during this time. An entire house of straight mormon guys showed such Christlike love to me. It didn’t matter to them that I was bi, simply that I was happy. They may not agree with my choices, but they saw me, not my sins. Mike has always been the epitome of Christlikeness to me. When I first told him, he didn’t care. I was no different. The only real thing that changed was that now he could use the good looking guys in films as a reason for me to watch the film (like Bradley Cooper in ‘Limitless’ and Guy Pearce in ‘Lockout’). Hong was never bothered either and John was happy that I was able to be so comfortable around them. I knew and felt their love and it gave me hope.

Then I moved. Not the easiest thing for me to do. I finally had my ‘Sex and the City’ friends (don’t judge me). I had an amazing group of wonderful people who helped me to be a better person and then they were gone. I know Hong has said a couple times, ‘good friends need not to say much, but is understood among each other,’ but it is still hard for me to not have them around. They have become my family and I love them tremendously.

Well Uni has been quite the challenge and I even seriously considered dropping out last month. The workload is killer and I was not prepared for any of it. Thankfully, the course leader consoled me with her confidence in my graduating (I’m still not so sure of it). The first semester is almost over with exams next month. Seriously cannot wait. Finished two portfolios about 2 weeks ago (one was decent, the other one I will be lucky if I pass) and now I have two essays to write and two exams to revise for. January will be hell.

To top it all off, I have made some excellent progress with my second book of my series, ‘The Chronicles of the Fallen.’ The title is still a work in progress, but I am excited about where the book is at and where it is heading. Cannot wait for people to read it.

Well, I have prattled on for much too long now. I want to wish you all a most successful new year. Let go of your regrets, make your dreams reality, love yourself, make progress, love, live, explore, smile, and of be happy. God loves you and I love you. I do not know what to expect during the next year, but I look forward to it. Anything is possible. All the best in 2014 🙂

The all important 'selfie'

The all important ‘selfie’

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