Rambling thoughts from a history graduate.
Collectively known as ‘the year of the dumpster fire’, 2016 has certainly been a roller coaster ride of events. Ranging from the release of Pokemon GO and chemotherapy breakthroughs for pancreatic cancer to Donald Trump being elected and Brexit to ISIS attacks across the globe and so many deaths of beloved celebrities it has certainly been quite a year. However, the main question is whether 2016 as a whole will be remembered in the history books? Short answer, no. That’s not how history works.
Some events, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, the ISIS attacks and the various political changes to name a few, will be remembered. They are key moments from 2016 which have impacted the course of our history for better or for worse. This does not mean that 2016 has not been an important year for many nor for the future, it means 2016 will not be remembered as a whole but as a collection of events.
As humans, we look back at the years we have lived through and pass judgement on a specific year based on what happened to us and the people who we are closest to. A majority of events are often not newsworthy for example, new friendships created, being made redundant and moving to a new house to name a few. Although, these events are important to the person, they are not historical groundbreaking moments and therefore difficult to study. Those personal events will not mean anything in the grand scale of the historical narrative, unless they play into large cultural figures, for example, the increasing rate of divorce. 2016 will be remembered as a whole by those who experienced it, however, historians will not. Historians generally do not choose a specific year and study all the events which occurred. They chose periods, events, groups and persons who interest them and wish to learn more about.
Some of the events which occurred in 2016 will be remembered and studied by historians. Which events and to what extent are generally unknown. This is simply because we cannot foresee the future and know what the events of 2016 will create in further years.
Take Brexit for example, nobody knows how it will come about nor its implications for the future. This also includes the Prime Minister, Theresa May, who is instigating Brexit. Therefore, the importance of the 2016 Referendum is unknown. Brexit could run smoothly and cause little if not any problems and thus the 2016 Referendum will mostly be forgotten. It could go exceedingly well and Britain could be better off for leaving Europe, making the Referendum highly celebrated as that time when the British took the future into their own hands. On the other hand, there is the possibility that Brexit could ruin Britain and the Referendum could be remembered as the most idiotic decision the British public collectively have made ever. Because Brexit has not happened yet, we do not know its impact to us or history.
As the clock strikes midnight tonight, 2016 will become yet another moment in the past and for many, there may be a sigh of relief. Despite its roller coaster nature, 2016 has been a year of change for many. Change of personal circumstances, change of politics and laws, change of ideologies and beliefs, the list continues. 2016 has been an important year for many, both positively and negatively. It is hoped that the events of 2016 will be remembered not just by future historians but by mostly us. We are the ones who can shape the future and not the historians of the future. By remembering the events which have occurred, we can take steps to becoming the best the human race could ever be by trying to improve what can be done and not repeating old mistakes. Let’s make 2017 the best it can be!
Happy New Year!