Here we are. New Year’s Eve of 2022, and looking back at all the ups and downs of this past year, have things only gotten better since the dastardly COVID-19 pandemic a couple of years back?
I would have to say that it’s become a case of the good, the bad, and the controversial.
Let’s talk about the one lousy element of 2022 that is sadly still ongoing: Mother Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.
I’ve not bothered to dive deep into this chaotic, brutal onslaught. But all I understood was that the Ukrainian government wanted to set itself apart further from Russia by proposing a lean towards democracy. Then, the next thing we knew, Vladimir Putin decided to launch as many of Russia’s missiles as possible at Ukraine. And I mean everywhere.
At one point, one of Russia’s attack forces indirectly took a hit on Poland, leaving two people dead and igniting outrage from the United Nations. So, as you can tell, international tensions are only starting to boil over, with no end in sight.
At one point, many Russians flat-out fled their home country out of hesitation or refusal to attack Ukraine with Putin, and rightfully so. So, if Russia’s attacks on Ukraine motivate someone to retaliate against Russia the way Japan made the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, then guess what? That’s on Putin’s head, as far as I’m concerned. At this rate, I pray that this kind of international quarrels will cease sooner than later, that it will end before Ukraine is completely wiped off the global map, and that, once it does, it will prevent a Cold War II from ever happening.
Unfortunately, Putin isn’t the only international leader with whom we should be on our toes. At one point, I heard that Kim Jong-un threatened to use North Korea's nuclear arsenal to target designated spots around the world a few years back. Now, I heard on a couple of occasions that he made similar threats this year, separately from Putin’s attacks on Ukraine.
And you know who else made such similar threats? Putin.
It was bad enough when Putin ordered the attacks on Ukraine in response to what Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposed. But with the attacks on Ukraine still barreling as we speak, on top of Putin taking it a step further with nuclear contemplations? We’re at the stage where the urge to engage in war in response to these deeds is inevitable and almost crucial should these situations worsen. Every time I look at Putin’s continuous onslaught on Ukraine and the suspicions of him engaging in nuclear warfare, I feel like Russia is regressing and that the Soviet Union would’ve been reborn.
Plus, since COVID-19 hit, the Chinese government has been subject to endless scrutiny, particularly censoring their newsfeeds and their accountability for spreading the disease. Yet, even the leader of China, Xi Jinping, admitted that he would’ve dropped Putin on a dime if Putin went through with launching his nuclear missiles on Ukraine. In which case, he sided with Joe Biden against this frightening consideration.
Honestly, if these leaders’ forces enforce enough aggression among their nearby countries and their own to ignite a World War III, then COVID-19 may be the least of our worries this decade!
Sadly, plenty more travesties occurred throughout America, too. For example, in May, an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, was intruded on by Uvalde resident Salvador Ramos, who barreled his way in with a couple of guns and shot many students and teachers. He was even reported to have shot his grandmother, although she survived that attack, thank God. Later, Ramos himself was confirmed dead, too, because it was likely that the responding police officers shot and killed him as he tried to flee. In total, 21 people were killed at the elementary school; 19 students and two teachers. May they rest in peace, and keep all their families in your prayers.
Elsewhere… Even after Donald Trump stepped out of the Presidential office, he just continues to stir up controversy, doesn’t he? Back in August, Trump reportedly stashed away classified documents that were usually supposed to have been kept on file at the White House. It resulted in the FBI lunging into his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida and raiding it in search of the files that Donald Trump stashed away. Some people believed this was for the greater good since they thought Trump was supposed to be held accountable for hijacking materials from Washington DC that he shouldn’t have. Yet, others condemned this raid, calling it an invasion of personal property. Whether or not the documents that Trump stashed away contained anything that would’ve justified either Trump carrying it with him or the FBI taking it away is still on the air. There are no easy winners or losers in politics, are there?
Meanwhile, we have lost some beloved big-name stars who left a dent in the Hollywood mainstream. The dearly departed now include:
Sidney Poitier - He was famous for his trailblazing roles in film, including Lillies of the Fiend and In the Heat of the Night, which ignited greater recognition of black people.
Betty White - She was one of the most prolific actresses and comedians who ever lived, but one of her most iconic roles was as Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls.
Pat Carrol - An actress and comedian, Carroll was primarily famous as the voice of Ursula in The Little Mermaid.
Angela Lansbury - Having made a breakthrough on film, television, and stage, she was famous for multiple iconic roles, including as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote and as Miss Potts in Beauty and the Beast.
Each of those movie stars starred in countless roles in film, television, and even on stage, and their remarkable talents helped shape Hollywood into what it has become. May they also rest in peace.
And let’s not forget one of the biggest travesties that struck Great Britain: the death of Queen Elizabeth II. She took the British throne in 1952 and demonstrated her prowess and commitment as the Queen of England for 70 years, becoming one of the most influential queens who ever lived in the process. But it was on September 8, 2022, when she died peacefully, most likely from old age, at 96 years old. After that, at 73, her son Charles ascended and took over, becoming King Charles III of England. I pray for Great Britain to thrive under the promises made by his new reign and that the influences of Queen Elizabeth II will remain undiminished.
On the brighter side, however, let’s look at some of the more positive elements of 2022.
For starters, the obvious: COVID-19 had generally dwindled into something not worth worrying our heads over. While some slight resurgences of the disease had cropped up in some parts of America and the world, they were generally sporadic at best, and the fears we had over the deadliness of COVID-19, while warranted, had subsided substantially. So these days, we treat it as no different than the annual flu. All we need is a shot, and we should be good.
What I’m about to discuss next may sound too movie-specific, but I can’t help but look back on 2022 as one of those years where it flourished with one great sequel after another. Each follow-up emerged and either continued the original story or honored it while acknowledging the time gaps in a way that felt as natural to the characters as it did with the actors and writers making them happen. Among such movies this year were Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Avatar: The Way of Water, impressively, A Christmas Story Christmas, and above all, the mega-blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick. These deservedly honored second chapters demonstrated the creative willpower to be shown through making worthy sequels to the classics and blockbusters that came before them.
And here’s a surprise twist, and this still pertains to entertainment. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Albuquerque Convention Center erected a pair of bronze statues of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, the two main protagonists of one of the most critically acclaimed TV shows of all time, Breaking Bad. I put this here because, surprise: Breaking Bad is probably my all-time favorite TV show, even better than Neon Genesis Evangelion. So the idea that this show, shot in Albuquerque, had statues made of them in honor of it in the very place it was filmed feels like a colossal honor. I salute you, Vince Gilligan!
I spelled this out in my review of The Muppet Christmas Carol, but I’m going to say it again: its deleted song, “When Love is Gone,” has officially made a comeback. For over 30 years, fans of the movie debated whether the song deserved to be included or not, but they didn’t have much of a choice to compare and contrast since the theatrical cut, the most widely available cut, omitted it. Because of this, many people, even director Brian Henson, felt like it was lost. But miraculously, his fellow crew members found the original reel of the song, allowing them to sneak it back into the film. Now, the original version of The Muppet Christmas Carol – the version I’m the most familiar with, I might add – was finally released via Disney+ around Christmas time. From the looks of it, thanks to its resurfacing, the song may be here to stay.
And in other exciting news — and please don’t mind this; this is my opinion on something so controversial — I believe that Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter may guarantee a much safer, more thorough, and less restrictive handling of what’s being shared via the social network. Some news I’ve seen or read implied that many tweets that argued about topics differently than everyone else have been taken down because of conflicting views. And, if you know me by now, I take umbrage with the idea of someone’s voice being muted simply for standing out from the rest of the crowd who may’ve been compelled to argue otherwise. However, with Elon Musk at the helm, chances are that such censorship should gradually lessen, as he laid off the employees who oversaw whatever controversial tweet had to be removed. Of course, everyone has their own opinion on his ownership. Still, in my opinion, nothing is more hopeful or exciting than an American multi-billionaire using his money to navigate the public consciousness in the right direction. And unless I’m mistaken, his handling of Twitter might guarantee a breath of new life for the freedom of speech.
Whatever else may happen, whether here in America or elsewhere throughout the world, let us never, ever lose our unyielding sense of hope. If we keep on strong and hope for the best, there may be a shred of divine intervention that could put the colossal misunderstandings of the world at ease and ignite some much-needed preventions of disasters far more significant than that which we dealt with in 2020.
Happy New Year’s Day, everyone, and may we continue to pave the way for a brighter tomorrow all the way!
Oh, and one more thing:
The less said about the godforsaken Disinformation Governance Board, the better.