Looking Back at 2017: The Best and Worst of Times

When looking back at 2017, one cannot help but be reminded of the famous opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities published in 1859. Although the novel is set against the backdrop of the French Revolution more than 150 years ago, it perfectly captures the schizophrenic nature of 2017: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Perhaps we can update Dickens’ brilliant prose a bit: 2017 — it was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of stupidity; it was the epoch of truth and facts, it was the epoch of lies and alternative facts or fake news; it was the age of democracy and the age of tyranny; it was the time of speaking out against injustice and sexual harassment, it was the time of silence and complicity; it was the epoch of unity, it was the epoch of discord; it was the age of neglecting the common good, it was the age of rewarding the wealthy; it was the epoch of rejecting immigrants, it was the epoch of welcoming white supremacy; it was a time of understanding and empathy, it was a time of intolerance and hatred; it was the period of sincerity, it was the period of hypocrisy; it was the age of accountability and transparency, it was the age of finger-pointing and obfuscation; it was the epoch of achievement, it was the epoch of failure; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going to be rewarded, or we were all getting royally f**ked.

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President of Alexander Atkins Design, a leader in philanthropic graphic design for nonprofits & schools; author of Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf.

President of Alexander Atkins Design, a leader in philanthropic graphic design for nonprofits & schools; author of Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf.