I don't know about you, but 2011 felt like a real stinker - particularly the last half. The first 6 months looked promising, with the eruption of the Arab Spring, and the sense of fightback against the economic mess that the neo-liberal governments were forcing on the UK and other European countries. Movements such as the Coalition of Resistance and UK Uncut were putting pressure both locally and nationally on the focus of cuts, challenging who should be hit hardest; those who made the mess, or those who were poorest.
But by the summer things felt very different. Military action by the West in Libya, moved the Arab Spring into a far more bloody affair, and dictators in Syria and Yemen were determined that brute force would win the day. Even Egypt seemed to have not been able to free itself of the straight jacket of military rule. With the killing of Osama and later Gaddafy, it felt that vengeance was the ideological winner of 2011. Tunisia stands alone as a successful outcome of Arab Spring.
In the UK, the August riots rocked the nation, and have left us all feeling very uneasy about the future. More cuts are to come, jobs are scarce and the rapid destruction of 'Education for All', means that many young people face a dehumanising future.
The Euro continues to feel like a disaster waiting to happen, with dreaded consequences for the UK economy. Cameron's policies seem increasingly about appeasing the needs of the City of London
So where is the good news? The 'occupy movement' began to build a template at the end of 2011. We are going to have to do the rest ourselves in 2012! We will do so when we build stronger local communities who are eager to defend themselves against ideologically driven policies. We will do so when we stand up to bullies, and look after each other when that feels difficult and frightening. We will look for new opportunities to grow and learn from all the wonderful and surprising people around us. We must remain strong and positive, whilst forgiving ourselves for moments of weakness and negativity.
For those of us with faith, the task of 2012 will be to remember we have a God who does not protect us from the hardships of life, but who travels through them beside us. Good riddance to 2011, and God bless us in 2012.