I can’t help getting wrapped up in the New Year’s Eve optimism year after year. I know that most of the parties are a corporate racket, that the night more often ends with a hangover than with a magical midnight smooch, that we all revert to Top Pot–snarfing, gym-avoiding procrastinators the second the champagne goes flat. There may be no other holiday that provides more fodder for cynics (or at least not until Valentine’s Day rolls around).
Call me naïve, but I can’t resist the idea of a fresh start. It’s freeing to give yourself permission to begin again, to tell yourself that, no matter how much you screwed up last year and the one before, you might actually be able to be a little better this year. Especially after the mess that was 2014—seriously, was there ever a more internationally miserable year?—2015 dawned full of promise.
Three days later, the extremist group Boko Haram waged a massacre in the Nigerian town of Baga. Just like that, 2,000 lives were gone.
It’s impossible to wrap one’s mind around losses of this magnitude. This may be one of the reasons why the Nigerian massacre has gone more or less ignored in the American media—it feels like too much to even try to comprehend.
We say that’s no excuse. Turn to page 22 for editor Emily Hedberg’s perspective.
Four days after the killings in Baga, two gunmen entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris and opened fire, killing twelve staff members and two police officers. The next day, a hostage situation at a French grocery store led to four more deaths.
As journalists, we here at the Spectator feel a particular link to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Even though we do not agree with the magazine’s content, freedom of speech is worthless if we only protect that which we agree with. We are a newspaper, and therefore we are Charlie.
I’ll admit, it didn’t take long for my New Year’s optimism to fizzle out this time around. The world looks pretty dark from here, and not just because it’s winter quarter and we’re all hibernating.
I, for one, am sustaining that feeling of hope just long enough to make one last resolution for 2015. Over the past two weeks, the world has all-too-painfully witnessed the deadly impact of cruelty, extremism, and hate. So this year, let’s be kind to one another. Let’s treat each other gently, and when we disagree, let’s disagree with curiosity and respect. It may be small, but I think shining a bit of light in the darkness really does make a difference.
What can I say? I’m an optimist.