One of the more tedious and morbid New Year’s traditions is the writing of lengthy lists of people who died the previous year.
Let’s pop that champagne.
According to the CIA’s World Fact Book, an estimated 56.8 million people die every year.
(Uncomfortable thought: how does the CIA know that?)
However we don’t talk about the millions of people who have died, at New Year’s, or think about all of them.
We tend to save our grief and compassion for celebrities.
In 2017 the talented gene pool sprung a leak to be sure.
And many tributes have already been written, memorializing singers and actors the world “lost.”
That’s another tedious habit. Pundits harp on and on about lost celebrities as if there is a concerted effort to go out and find them.
Unless a celebrity dies in a disaster equivalent to Malaysia Flight 370 those beautiful people aren’t missing. We know where they are.
Mary Tyler Moore died in 2017, nearly a year ago actually.
Jim Neighbors died, and so did Jerry Lewis and Don Rickles.
The music business took a serious hit, saying goodbye to Tom Petty and Chuck Berry.
The list thins some, after that.
It’s not as if there weren’t a lot of “celebrities” who died last year. In fact CNN claims there were 72.
But there are genuine five-carat red carpet kind of celebrities…like Roger Moore and David Cassidy.
And there are off-the-rack cubic zirconia personalities that lend themselves better to linoleum.
It’s sufficient to note that if a person’s celebrity must be supported by reminding everyone why he or she is famous – as is the case with Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls or You Tube star and rapper-singer Lil Peep – they should probably be on a separate list that begins with the letter B.
That is not to suggest they weren’t important to someone.
Eighty-one reporters died last year while doing their jobs. That’s according to the International Federation of Journalists.
They were killed in targeted attacks, car bombings or because they were caught in crossfire.
Most of those who died were in the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East.
There are not a lot of car bombings in Princeton BC and relatively speaking being a reporter in Canada is a safe occupation. That doesn’t mean it is always pleasant, though.
Several years ago someone in charge of the Ontario Newspaper Awards gala decided it would be a great idea if the hundreds of media professionals gathered to celebrate a year of excellence stood while someone else read off a list of names of journalists who were killed in the previous 12 months.
Everyone stood in solemn silence for the first few dozen memorials, but by the time we were down to the letter M there was fidgeting, polite coughing, and a few folks were picking crusty rolls off the tables and sneaking sips of wine.
Fairly sure none of those names were pronounced correctly, either.
The exercise was not repeated at subsequent dinners.
And that’s for the good.
While 56.8 million people (give or take) die every year in the world, approximately 135 million people are born.
And that seems like a better thing to focus on, at New Years.