Love actually is all around…

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The chances are most people who read this will recognise the words above. They come from my all time favourite Christmas film- Love Actually.

Usually, I watch this film and feel the same every year- depressed that Hugh Grant is not prime minister, angry at Alan Rickman for cheating on Emma Thompson, and jealous of the love that Sam has for Joanna. Yesterday, when I watched it for the first time this year, I still felt all these things, but I also felt like the story took on a whole new meaning, precisely because of the words at the top of this post.

It is easy to look back on 2016 and see nothing beyond politics. It feels, at times, like all that has happened this year are Brexit and the US election. Whilst both were incredibly important events, and rightly deserved a significant amount of press coverage/time/conversations dedicated to them, the impact which they have had on society has arguably been less than positive. In the Brexit campaign, we had to listen to hours of scaremongering on both sides, countless low blows, and personal attacks. Times this by 10, add accusations of corruption and sexual abuse, and you’ve got the US election campaign. Neither events showed human nature in its best light, regardless of which side you supported, and both have, understandably, led to nearly 50% of the British and American population feeling disillusioned with the state of the world.

So, if you think about 2016 merely in terms of politics, it would be deemed by many people to be an ‘annus horribilis’. If you look at the media over the past year, it is also more than likely that you would come to this conclusion; newspapers hardly show the world in a very positive light, nor does the news. Even twitter seems to be turning into a world of negativity based around people’s political thoughts. These days, with the people at the top hardly setting a good example for us to follow, one could be forgiven for thinking that  we live in a world of hate.

Which is why it is important to look beyond the politics when thinking about this last year. Yes, they have played a dominant role, and the after shocks of the earthquakes will continue for years to come. But there has also been a multitude of positive things that have happened since January. Love them or loathe them, Britain got its second female prime minister, and we very nearly had the first female president (#GIRLPOWER). Scientists got closer to developing an HIV cure. The number of tigers increased for the first time in 100 years. Thanks to the ALS ice bucket challenge, massive strides were made in finding a cure for motor neurone disease.

A perfect example of being blinded by politics, I also nearly forgot that sandwiched between the referendum and the US election we had the Olympics in Rio.Whilst they may have been surrounded by controversy, nothing can take away from the respect, peace, and unity that the Games represent. All ethnicities, genders, religions, sexualities competing alongside each other, in one competition. I challenge you to watch the Olympics and still think of 2016 as nothing more than a year of hate stirred up by politicians.

And so this is where my favourite Christmas film comes back in to play. Of course, not all of us were involved, or even watched, the Olympics. But even in our own lives the same values are often existent. Like the taxi driver who only charged my £10 instead of £13 because that was all I had on me at the time. Or the little boy who I saw give his seat up for an old lady on the tube. Or the man who let me go in front of him in the Cafe Nero queue because I was carrying about 5 bags at once and was close to dropping everything on the floor.

Of course, I am not suggesting that we should all ignore everything that happens outside of our own little worlds. That would be ignorant, and quite frankly plain stupid. What I am suggesting, however, is that we take more time to appreciate the good, if small, things which happen on a daily basis. They might not be published on the front of every newspaper, and they might seem insignificant compared to events such as Brexit, but they do happen- every single day. I see them everywhere- in train stations, in coffee shops, on the street. And they should act as a reminder, especially at the end of this year, that human kindness, but more importantly love, is actually all around.

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