As 2015 fades and 2016 is a bright new dawn we can set aside some time in our busy calendar for contemplating transitions. Doorways, passages, corridors and journeys were the domain of Janus, Roman god of beginnings and endings (the 1st January his dedicated day). There was no Greek equivalent – Janus as a two-headed entity was entirely a figure of Roman mythology. His influence was not limited to the start of the year, but all kinds of transitions such as birth, marriage and harvest time.
Fittingly for the end of 2015 and the start of 2016, Janus presided over the start and end of conflict; at time of war his temples were opened, and their closure marked the bringing of peace. As we greet another New Year’s Day, across the globe many millions of us hope for and indeed are working towards peace.
We are leaving behind a year of great conflict and loss, with millions of people displaced across war torn areas, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East. Such conflict has been brought very close to home as the migration of refugees fleeing the fighting reached the height of one million in Europe on the 21st December. The human cost of war is immense.
In November, members of Parliament in the UK voted to escalate our military intervention in the conflict zone of Syria. Over one third of the Syrian people have now been forced to leave their homes, and many thousands will be spending another winter’s night in the refugee camps on the Turkish border.
My hope for 2016 is that a peaceful resolution can be found for Syria, Eritrea, Libya, Afghanistan – in fact all the nations where ordinary people have found their lives turned upsidedown. And yet our government still puts the emphasis on big, expensive military hardware rather than investing in support, diplomacy and progressive measures to combat climate change which lie at the root of the resolution for the conflicts we are experiencing.
I resolve this coming year to continue to work hard to inform and highlight these key global issues, as well as fighting local problems such as cuts to services dealing with health, transport and social care facing the residents of the Isle of Wight.
All the best for 2016 to you, your families and your friends.