It was such a disappointment, 2016. If you believe (like I do) in an open world, where a free flow of capital, people and ideas inspires governments rather than frightening them, then this whole year seems like comprised of one loss after another.
Brexit is but one example. The Syrian crisis and its victims being abandoned by the world. Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, which allows for horrific abuse against homosexuals. The Philippines’ war on drugs, with thousands of murders and a president who boasts about personally shooting criminals. The metaphorical year’s cherry materialized in the form of a man with an ugly pompadour and a mean tongue, which our American friends, or Unitedstatesians as the rest of America calls them, elected for a leader.
Even right here in the Netherlands, a country known and loved for its long-standing tradition of cultural diversity and tolerance, you’ll find flourishing politicians bidding newcomers to reject their beliefs. The far and wide rise of nationalism around the world makes next year seem even more vexed.
2016, how discouraging!
But wait. Let’s focus not only on the bad, noise-making news. Let’s focus on the small things, the everyday folk about which you never hear. Let’s focus on places like Wageningen.
During my year here, I met people from all around the world and explored other cultures without ever visiting their place of origin. I left a small piece of my heart within every person I encountered, and in return, they left a piece of theirs in me. I have been in contact with dozens of differing cultures and opposing views, and I’ve come to realize one thing: how similar we are.
It matters not if you eat tacos, pasta or falafel; or if you dress this way or that. No one will mind if you pray to one or another or none. Nobody mocks whom you choose to love. People here unite in their search for what is beautifully stated in our university’s motto: for quality of life. For everyone, that is, not only our own.
It is while thinking about the people I’ve met, their warm embrace and day-to-day small deeds of kindness, and by bearing in mind they will be the ones who shape the world to come, that I say: Yes! The good still outweighs the bad. Yes! This is a marvelous place. Yes! There is still a chance for love.