As I sit here on the sofa next to my dog I try to cast my memory back to what has happened in the last year. 2015, is a year that we will all remember, but probably for all the wrong reasons; we will remember it because of terrorist attacks, the migrant crisis, biblical floods and shootings in America. On hearing the news you would be forgiven for thinking that twenty fifteen was a bad year.
But this was also the year of ‘you ain’t no Muslim bruv’, where one man was able to say in a simple sentence what politicians and religious leaders could not. Where the world stood in solidarity with the people of Paris, shocked at the abhorrent violence that had visited their city. Some English football fans even sang the French national anthem. Despite the ominous shadow that hung above Paris following the devastating attacks, the COP climate summit took place. Across the globe people bravely went out into the streets and campaigned for action on climate change, an issue of huge importance. A ground breaking deal was agreed on, which although not legally binding gives huge hope that together governments can do something tangible to manage the impacts of climate change before it’s too late.
In sport Leicester City upset the old order, scoring goals and blowing the opposition in their meteoric rise to the top. Andy Murray led Great Britain to its first Davis Cup victory in nearly 80 years. England disappointed in the world cup, but we were privileged to watch a supremely talented All Blacks side deservedly win the trophy.
2015 was also the year of the idiot. Worryingly, a man who could soon be in charge of the world’s most powerful nation made his bigoted views about Muslims clear for the world to hear. Meanwhile in the UK there were Tyson Fury’s homophobic comments. I find his comments incredibly offensive and he is a role model, but I also find it strange that we are shocked and appalled at what this man has to say, yet as a society we endorse his violence, baying for blood, providing the platform for him and other boxers trading blows. Cheering them to give each other brain damage, for our entertainment. These kinds of comments have no place in our society, but I can see the irony in our selective fickleness.
Looking towards 2016, I am worried about ISIS – but what worries me more is islamophobia. Fear makes people act irrationally. Currently there is a lot of fear around (not surprisingly). Ostracising Muslims is exactly what ISIS want, they want to put a wedge between us. Fear is the fuel which drives their organisation. Remember that our brains are genetically hardwired to pay attention to threats and negative information, this is how we have evolved to survive. This is why it is important to remember that for every Jihadi John there are thousands of everyday Muslim heroes- doctors, nurses, teachers and neighbours. These are people that are not given any news time. We must ensure we don’t blame the actions of a few on a whole entire faith.
Going into 2016, my message is be brave and be positive.