2016 Was Not the Worst Year Ever

Across my newsfeed has rung the proclamation that 2016 was “The Worst Year Ever.” I […]

Sarah Condon / 12.16.16

Across my newsfeed has rung the proclamation that 2016 was “The Worst Year Ever.” I get it. David Bowie died. Prince went on to his great reward. Half the country voted for someone that people are comparing to Hitler/a cartoon character/a Cheeto. I wish I could buy into the extreme opinion. I love to proclaim things as being the worst. Unfortunately, 2016 ain’t it.

Let’s pause, for just a moment, and remember our history. Now, I’m not even asking us to look at global history (Holocaust) or ancient history (I see you, Crusades). The fact of the matter is that the year 2016 has some stiff competition for worst, just in this country alone.

Here goes:

  • There’s the Civil War. No one remembers that. But it did happen.
  • There’s that time in 1890 when the lynching of black men peaked in America.
  • There’s the years of the Great Depression. My grandmother always told me about the starving people that would show up to the door of her childhood house in rural Louisiana, only to find that her family was starving, too.
  • WWII. Do I need to elaborate?
  • There’s the Japanese internment camps.
  • Also, there’s the tumultuous 1960s, school integration, vitriol, violence, and the church bombing in Alabama that murdered three little girls.
  • Oh, and Vietnam.
  • The AIDS crisis.
  • 2001 was pretty bleak, if memory serves.

(On a personal note, Dixie Carter’s death in 2010 almost put me in a psychiatric hospital. I know I am not alone in this. I feel like it needs to be listed.)

So, 2016 was the worst year ever for privileged white people who do not watch Designing Women reruns. Y’all, the struggle is real.

Remember how Jerry Springer used to do episodes where he would let former prisoners yell at middle schoolers who had been caught stealing their dad’s cigarettes and beer? They’d get in those 12-year-olds’ faces and say things like, “YOU DON’T KNOW HOW GOOD YOU HAVE IT, SQUIRT!”

Well, maybe we should bring some Syrian refugees over to tell us about how their year has been. Or perhaps there are some elderly people who remember the Japanese internment camps we had in freaking Arkansas who could remind us what it felt like to be so hated in this country that they were forced to live behind a fence.

Are you hungry? Are you healthy? Do you have a place to live? Are you reading this on a computer?

Great. Then 2016 was not the worst year ever. Not in this country, anyway.

But it is perhaps the angriest. And most vitriolic. And we have only ourselves to blame for that.


Two weeks before the election I was grabbing coffee at my beloved Target Starbucks. There was an elderly black woman making the coffee. A young white guy walked in, looked at the barista, and muttered under his breath, “God, I hope she knows how to make a Caramel Dulce Frappuccino.”

So, he mutters this ridiculous sentence to himself and I turn and say, “I’m sure she knows how to make one. She works here.”

To which he responds, “You’d be surprised.”

I stayed at the counter, thinking that Dulce had probably not used up all his idiot for the day.

The barista walks over to take his order and instead of telling her what he wants he actually says:

“Do you even know how to make a Cinnamon Dulce Frappuccino?”

To which she politely responds, “They taught me how.”

To which Dulce says, “What kind of an answer is that?”

To which I yell back at him, “WHAT KIND OF A QUESTION IS THAT?! SERIOUSLY?!”

Here’s the thing that Dulce didn’t know about me: I once yelled so much at my high school drama teacher that I got kicked out of class. Permanently. I have yelled at car dealerships, bishops, bosses, homeless guys catcalling me, etc.

So I yelled at him for everyone to hear. I shamed him right out of that Starbucks. And I felt awesome about it for a solid 2 minutes.

And then I remembered how much Jesus loves me, that barista, and Dulce guy.

I wish I could tell you that my response to him made me feel better. I wish I could tell you that the whole incident somehow made me feel like I could get on the 2016 Was the Worst Year Ever bandwagon. But yelling at people always makes me feel like crap with a bow on it.

While 2016 has not been the worst year ever, it has been a fantastically sinful year for people like me. We get to yell at everyone with a level of righteous indignation that I normally only experience in my dreams. I didn’t help that guy at Starbucks. I didn’t ask him if he was okay. I for sure didn’t tell him about the Gospel. I was just Broken yelling at Broken, and Lord knows that never fixes anything.

Look, 2016 has been a year filled with tremendous heartache and concern. Fifty souls were lost in a nightclub shooting in Florida. More black men were needlessly killed by police. More police were needlessly killed by white guys.

Half the country was clueless to the fact that the other half of the country was voting differently. And now all of the people who were on the losing side are angry with all of the people who chose the president elect. That’ll help.

More celebrities have died. Which is always hard on us. We have tendency towards elevating famous people to immortal status, while simultaneously living in denial of our own mortality. So when one of them dies we are all, “Impossible! Allan Thicke was a comedic genius!”

Too soon?

And then there’s Jesus. Poor Jesus, who we keep calling upon all in the name of our righteous anger. All in the name of our stance on the issues. All in the name of proclaiming that 2016 Was the Worst Year Ever.

If only Jesus were that kind of God. He is not coming back to fix all of the issues that make us angry. He is coming back to save us from our response.