KAMLOOPS — I have seen so many surveys over the past couple of weeks asking viewers, readers and listeners, depending on your medium of choice what the biggest loss was in 2016. Certainly last year was a sadder year than normal when looking at influential people who passed away. Much has been made of all the entertainers who passed on, but I believe there are several who were not entertainers in the traditional sense of the word whose passing should be remembered.
For me, the biggest loss was the death of Muhammed Ali. I was young when Cassius Clay first made headlines. I, along with many others, started to root against him when he changed his beliefs, changed his lifestyle, took on a cocky air and continued to dominate his field unlike almost any other. It was only as I got older that I realized the inner strength it took for a man of colour to defy the rules of the day, to say “this isn’t right” and do something about it, to refuse to serve on moral and religious grounds, to change his faith, and rise above, head unbowed, to make a case that would challenge many of our traditional ideals and beliefs. To fight against a terrible disease, with dignity, humour, and a gift to others in showing us how to face death undaunted.
There were others who also had a major place in history. Obviously Fidel Castro had a major impact on world politics. A David fighting in the teeth of Goliath, no matter your political beliefs a challenge that would have beaten lesser men. John Glenn was a true American hero, the first American to orbit the earth, going up a second time as a volunteer, serving a distinguished life as a U.S. Senator. Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor and author, who wrote 57 books. Not only a man of history in his own faith, and his own experiences, Wiesel campaigned for victims of oppression in many countries around the world. His loss will be greatly felt, perhaps more so than many others realize.
While the loss of many of these people, whether they be sports heroes, politicians or entertainers, will be sorely felt, I think we should also hold a place in our thoughts for the thousands who were innocents in so many terror attacks in the past year. As the battle heats up to control groups who profess to be fighting in the cause of religion but are really only fighting for their own ill-designed causes, 2017 will not likely fare much better.
And while it may take some time to study its outcome, perhaps the biggest loss of 2016 is not that of a person, but the loss of sensible direction in the most powerful country in the world. The election to power of someone who seems to be marching to their own drum, with no sense of believable leadership, and a poor grasp of the impact of their decisions on the rest of the world. Perhaps, at the end of it all, that will be the biggest loss of 2016.