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COMMENTARY
2016
(Morguefile.com)

I‘ll speak for myself while assuming I also speak for a great deal of you folks out there: 2016 needs to end already.

Sure, 2016 as a numerical year had some charm to it. The number is good and even, divisible by many other fine integers: 4, 8, 12, 16, 24 and 32.

But beyond that, this year has proven for many to be a tumultuous trip through Takeshi’s Castle:

Between numerous deaths in the entertainment world and an interminably long election season that featured outrageous rhetoric under the specter of global instability, 2016 punched many of us in the gut, took our lunch money and insulted our mothers in the process.

“I can’t describe it without a lot of cuss words,” said ME Josh McBee when I asked him for assistance in describing the past 12 months.

Good thing we allow cursing on NonDoc, I guess.

Death and taxes

Throughout 2016, music fans endured what at times felt like an endless string of tragedy — David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard, Prince, Leon Russell and many others all died this year.

Throw in John Saunders, John Glenn, Gwen Ifill, Harper Lee, Mohammad Ali and a Russian ambassador whose murder could spark European upheaval, and you’ve got all the makings for a major bummer.

But deaths — and terror attacks — weren’t the only stressors of 2016. A sluggish jobs market has compounded high U.S. inflation in the arenas of health care and housing to strain middle-class and lower-income families. Health insurance premiums (even on the supposedly competition-driven exchanges) have spiked, and oil prices have struggled to reach mediocrity, meaning fewer jobs and less money coming into states like Oklahoma.

And as 2016 comes to a close, reports about Oklahoma’s sagging budget indicate legislators will have to tax citizens more or dramatically cut core government services.

One final week

All of that is to say, “We’re over it, man.” Including today, 2016 has only six days left to its name, and that’s probably a good thing.

Still, that’s 144 more hours of potential disaster, heartbreak and nightmare.

Perhaps that’s how most years end, however. Literature is littered with references to the emotions, stresses and uncertainty that humans almost constantly face.

From Hunter S. Thompson’s 1998 novel The Rum Diary, which the author began in 1959:

Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles — a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other — that kept me going.

Here’s hoping we can cling to some restless idealism in 2017.

 

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William W. Savage III (Tres) holds a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. He covered two sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature for eCapitol.net before working in health care for six years. He is a nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.