I decided to seek out one of those generic new year images – fireworks and 2017 emblazoned across the photograph, that sort of thing – but the selection was rather limited. Sifting through what was on offer on Flickr, I found school buses, images of a foggy day in Beijing and policemen doing their jobs around crowded streets in the USA, UK and elsewhere. Not the most festive of images, admittedly, but a clear indication of what we had in 2016, and what is likely to continue into 2017 and beyond. Most will already have heard of the gunman in Istanbul, or the mass pile-up on the A7 in Germany due to foggy conditions. The one with thirty-nine deaths, the other with six.
So what sort of image should one use to celebrate a new year, a new chance, a new beginning? Hiding behind the fairy tale Disney-like (no offense) images of peace and plenty isn’t going to work any more. In many ways I don’t think this image of peace and goodwill to all has worked for many years. It is also difficult to use humor, since there is always going to be someone who takes offense, objects, complains. You just need to take a short glance at the number of apologies, of Facebook and Twitter deletions private and public people have been forced to bring out, even when the majority of those reading understand, take no offense. Here a shout-out to Steve Martin: I understand what you meant about Carrie Fisher, a pity that others didn’t.
Image Source: Rika Oyen – Creative Commons
Will our intolerance – on all levels – change in the coming year? If anything I believe we will become even more intolerant of many minor things. I say minor on purpose, since it is increasingly clear that the major things which are wrong, which should not be allowed, which should be condemned and fought against are increasingly being side-lined by interest groups. The minor infractions, or things which aren’t an infraction at all, being instrumentalised and brought to the fore. The most obvious: a man is elected to high office despite his sexual activities, but a woman is not because of the sexual activities of her husband. Yes, I know, there is much more to it than that, but this ‘much more’ only makes it bigger and worse.
So my new year image is a ‘spot the mistake’ one because if we’re going to concentrate on the smaller things, then we can start here. Perhaps, by correcting the minor things, we can also correct the major in this coming year. Let us all hope so, and get to work!
- Viktoria Michaelis.