Citizens of the world might be forgiven if they feel that 2018 can’t arrive soon enough after an annus horribilus of all annus horribilises this year.
Certainly 2017 was worse than 1992 when Queen Elizabeth memorably uttered the Latin phrase for “horrible year” in her annual address, referring to a series of personal and family setbacks; but some folks still remember world and regional wars (Vietnam), plus a cultural war in the ‘60s as substantially viler.
So where does this year rank? On the whole, not as bad as 1945 when Hiroshima was wiped from the face of the earth by an atomic bomb, or any year from 1914 to 1919 or again from ’39 to ’45.
A younger generation need only go back to Sept. 11, 2001, and the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon; the Indonesia earthquake and tsunami in 2004 that ultimately killed 250,000 in the Indian Ocean region; or the 2011 earthquake that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan to make a case for worst year ever.
But let’s not quibble: 2017 was a pretty crappy year.
It started, auspiciously, with the inauguration, on Jan. 20, of Donald Trump, a U.S. president who continues to break the mold of traditional leaders of civilized nations. And whether one affectionately considers him The Donald, or, on the flip side, a cartoonish Ronald McDonald, Trump inarguably continues to create turmoil on an unprecedented level, leaving opponents, supporters, and even his own staff, wondering what will come next. And while that may be the entire point, the list of daily dramas from race and gender relations to war with North Korea and a million consequential and inconsequential things in between, does not inspire a good night’s sleep in any quarter, especially when faced with a barrage of morning tweets.
But lest we lay on the world’s ills at the feet of the POTUS, let’s remember that Mother Nature took equal pleasure in screwing with her house guests, or perhaps more appropriately, punishing mankind for its decades of ill treatment.
Notably, for example, 2017 has been the hottest year in the history of the world. But beyond prompting the increased sale of sunscreen and air conditioners, this frightening foundation clearly played its part in the development of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas as the worst rainstorm in U.S. history; the worst wild fire in Canadian history in British Columbia and more devastation across California; and the double whammy of Hurricane Irma – the largest ever recorded storm in the Atlantic region – and, only a week later, Hurricane Maria, both laying waste to a large swath of the Caribbean in unprecedented fashion.
Mexico City, meanwhile, suffered its worst earthquake since 1985, while the list of flood- and landslide-ravaged countries around the world is too long to mention.
Terrorism. Not new in 2017, but continuing to evolve in evil and unanticipated ways, such as the tactic of “ramming” a vehicle into crowds of people rather than a building. Attacks in Nice, Ohio and Berlin in the second half 2016 set the stage for multiple attacks to continue throughout this year: London and New York multiple times; Stockholm; Barcelona… Then there was the horrific bomb attack at a pop concert in Manchester in May that killed nearly two dozen people and injured over a hundred more, while a bomb attack outside a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia in October cost more than 300 people their lives.
Even usually uneventful Edmonton couldn’t escape the carnage, registering a ramming and stabbing incident in September, while a more devastating attack was reportedly foiled.
On the occasion when the perpetrators weren’t connected to or inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS), the gods still seemed to be going crazy, or at least some individuals – like Stephen Paddock, who gunned down 58 people and injured scores more at a music festival in Las Vegas, shooting from a hotel room window across the street.
By comparison, the Canadian travel industry fared reasonably well. People came and went, a few permanently, sad to say, and emerging trends like the sharing economy continued to take it’s toll, while tour operators and airlines echoed a common refrain: too much capacity. But that served consumers well as Canadians continued to travel, bolstered by a dollar that flirted with 80 cents U.S. much of the year (one takes what one can get…)
The country’s 150th anniversary similarly inspired Canadians to rediscover their home and native land – not the least its national parks, which offered free admission; as did countless inbound visitors.
Indeed, if there was any doubt that 2017 was a topsy-turvy year (inbound tourism actually bursting at the seams?), consider that the Toronto Maples Leafs and Edmonton Oilers entered the winter hockey season as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
Yet, by all the most important metrics, 2017 will not be remembered well.
Goodbye. Good riddance. 2018 anyone?