The holiday season has come and gone in a collective spasm. The seemingly unending rows of mouth-watering foods that fill the table and trays of family-members and friends on THANKSGIVING; the joyful sight of tree’s adorned with exquisite ornaments and marvelous lights, along with the miles-long wishlists that are dutifully delivered by the tiny hands and hopeful eyes of children on CHRISTMAS; and the river’s of alcohol that are soaked up by countless revelers on NEW YEARS EVE/DAY, all has evaporated into an invisible cloud that rises into the expansive azure, only to descend upon mankind at its designated time to enjoy and cherish all-over again. It is through strained, glassy eyes; intoxicated minds; and thumping hearts, which feel as if they’re on the verge of exploding from a festivities overdose, that we enter yet another chapter into the annals of time entitled 2014. But in order to move forward, it is necessary to remember the past, for there exists no better predictor of what might occur ahead than what has happened already. And (no doubt) you can tell from my somewhat unconventional subject-title that I am going to try combing the recent past; the present; and the near future in a wizard-like manner–though no guarantee’s offered.
Of course, it is nearly impossible, as well as completely unrealistic, to address many of the themes/subject-matters that were touched upon in a year, not to mention trying to cram it into a singular coherent blog article. However, as a compromise, allow me to address three items that caught my personal attention. First and foremost on this agenda, HH. POPE FRANCIS. The man whom rather timidly approached the balcony upon his election as the 266th Bishop of Rome, asking “all men and women of good will” to pray with and for him (1), has taken the entire world by storm. Whether it’s highlighting his humble, simple manner (2) to his lambasting of “trickle-down economics” (3), along with countless other such interest-raising occurrences; the previous year (2013) was certainly the Holy Father’s. And I don’t foresee this changing all too much this year, especially given that His Holiness has already announced plans to visit the Holy Land–a trip that includes stops in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan (4)–in late-May.
As fantastic as all this attention is, especially from a public-relations standpoint–a personal criticism that I often found myself leveling against the Vatican many times ; I’d like to state that I think it is incredibly important for all of us to be cautious about the media’s fickle gaze. A great representation of my meaning can be found in the hyperbolic articles proclaiming such things as Pope Francis Declares All Religions are True (5) and/or Pope Francis tosses tradition in favor of his fresh message (6). Although these examples are satirical and opinions (respectively); the general point still stands. We’d all due well to remember that the Pope is still Catholic (7) and always will be. But, cheers and best wishes to His Holiness all the same!
The second item on this posthumous list is an equally controversial man whom, similarly, has been rattling an “age-old” institution, though said institution is solely dedicated to warfare. I am, of course, alluding to ex-NSA contractor EDWARD SNOWDEN (1). Regardless of where one might stand on this issue, whether you consider him a “hero” or “traitor”, the dust-up he’s created has certainly been interesting to say the least. Personally, the revelations that were pouring out of E. Snowden’s leak’s were not that eyebrow-raising, at least not to a cynic like me who reads A LOT (note: emphasis), and were it solely based on their revelations; I don’t believe it’d be enough to mark him as special or note-worthy.
However, the difference between Snowden and the countless other anonymous informers whom risk their job(s)/career(s)–perhaps even more–revealing sensitive bits of information for us to consume is his tenacity. It wasn’t enough for him to unfurl these secrets (2), but he possesses the testicular fortitude to publicly reveal himself and speak, candidly, about his experiences/opinions. And it is this pride that made me take note of this remarkable man. But I’d also like to take this opportunity to highlight another important “leaker” whom was completely ignored by the media, whether intentionally or otherwise is besides the point, and that is AARON H. SWARTZ (3). For those unaware, Aaron was the 26-year-old co-creator of the massively popular REDDIT social news site (4) and an internet activist. He has been credited with single-handedly stopping the extraordinarily draconian internet censorship bills SOPA/PIPA, which were making their rounds through the hallowed halls of Congress in 2011-2012, with his DEMAND PROGRESS campaign (5). Sadly, due to legal and personal pressures he was facing (6); Aaron hung himself in his Brooklyn, New York apartment on January 11th, 2013.
It is men and women whom dare to shine a light, whether it’s with an emptying cigarette lighter’s flame or an enormous 1000-watt spotlight, upon injustice(s) and/or perceived injustice(s) that we must acknowledge and applaud, but only if their cause(s) are legitimate and deserving. But, more than simple acknowledgement, we owe it to ourselves and these people’s to remind all others, especially the media conglomerates whom control the conversation(s), that at the end of the day they’re people and they have rights, legally and morally, which must be applied and upheld regardless of politics. So, it is in this humble observers’ opinion that we shall see more internet activists this year, as well as the not-too-distant future, but their shade will be shrouded and mysterious due to the the that risks have already been proven to exist on account of the exceptionally harsh treatment Snowden has experienced and the sad demise of the tangibly well-intended Swartz.
Third, and finally, MILEY CYRUS (1). I know what everyone is thinking at this collective moment and I can’t believe I’m placing this “virus” upon my list either. But no matter whom you were nor where you were in mid-to-late 2013, you couldn’t escape this highly-manufactured avalanche of tartiness even if you tried. If you’re wondering why Miley has made the list rather than say for instance NELSON MANDELA (2) or someone/something else, than the reason is very simple; awareness and caution. The “trailer-trash lolita”, as I’ve come to personally refer to her as, should serve, henceforth, as a cautionary-tale of what not to buy nor support. I found the theatrics of her MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARD show “performance” (3) to be revolting and abhorrent for all the reasons touched upon as well as others not so much. One of those unmentioned criticisms is that this has all been done before, nothing about this is organic nor individually decided. Miley was a brand, and an ultra-successful one at that, that was specifically geared, at the time, towards young girls.
As a result, it is incredibly difficult for me to accept that this was simply a matter of harmless expression as it seems to indicate intent on subverting said base towards what the “artist” wishes, which seems to be lewd behavior/thoughts/acts; and not necessarily in any coherent order. To further undermine the “harmless” attribute such occurrences illicit, I’d like to state that I highly doubt this originated from Miley herself as I disbelieve this was even allowable to enter her thoughts as a human-being, especially a young woman who’s been in a tightly-held bubble thanks to her Hannah Montana days. If this is so, this shows that “others” were concocting this whole charade well in advanced and that Miley is merely a puppet to said “others'” wishes. If you need evidence of a wider “conspiracy” of sorts, than allow the undeniable fact that Miley’s (current) manager is a man by the name of LARRY RUDOLPH who has also “managed” BRITNEY SPEARS whom you will recall also underwent a very similar “change”. So there is something much more deeply-rooted going on than an artist suddenly feeling oppressed and needing to “express” themselves.
Instead, all signs seem to indicate that this is a rhythm (pun unintended) the music industry has allowed itself to strum, continuously and consistently, and will continue to do so until the consumer (i.e., you) becomes the wiser. Following the same train as the other two examples aforementioned; it is my belief that this lewdness trend shall continue, especially with young starlets from the Disney channel (makes one rethink Disney’s wholesome image, doesn’t it?), for the foreseeable future, but will start running out of steam near mid-2015. Yes, I’m thoroughly aware that this is beyond the year-scope I originally gave, but since I started I might as well have been honest in my time-line(s) so as not to seem like I’m concocting this for sheer attention.
As I wrap this rather lengthy article up, I’d just like to say that ultimately the year we inhabit is created and shaped by us. God gave us all hearts, brains, and abilities to use in order to exist; but, more than mere existence, they were given to us so that we could thrive. And this is especially true of our spiritual foundation(s) and wellbeing(s). Whether a year is considered to be “positive” or “negative” isn’t dependent on astrological alignments or other such whimsical ideas; but, instead, rests upon what you give/take during the course of its unraveling. As the well-known quote states, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” If we want to see less filthiness from our young “starlets”, such as produced by Miley, or more kindness and genuine leadership, as seen by the Holy Father, for this year and onwards; than we must become those things ourselves and demand it of others. Finally, it has been wonderful having the opportunity to share these sentiments, and many others, with you and I look forward to continuing this trend in the New Year and for as God wills it. Thank you for taking the time out to read the words of this simpleton and I hope that in some ways they’ll inspire someone out there. Until next time, take care, stay warm, and may God bless everyone!