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2018: A year of living dangerously

29 80 548

I was born and raised on three calendars: the Iranian, the Islamic, and the Gregorian. It may sound confusing, but it is actually quite an intriguing exercise which sculpts a contrapuntal disposition into one's character. Those of us who've gone through such an interstellar experience have the luxury of celebrating birthdays on three different days and sometimes during two different seasons!

The Iranian calendar is solar and every time we say the names of its months and seasons, they sounded like we are reciting an ancient hymn: Farvardin, Ordibehesht, Khordad… and then Bahar, Tabestan, Pa'iz, Zemestan. Pure poetry. The Islamic calendar is lunar and its logic introduces a sacred rhetoric into the rhythm of our lives. Moharram we hope for in fear and ecstasy, Ramadan is fun and curious. The Gregorian calendar meanwhile casts a colonial shadow onto our lives. We are effectively ruled by it and have no reason to trust its bizarre circulations.

When I moved to the United States, two other calendars were added to these three: the Chinese and the Jewish. These two calendars hardly mattered inside Iran except for the deeply learned and/or mystical. In the US they became aspects of my life first in Philadelphia, where I went to graduate school, and then eventually in New York, where I work.

Put together, the Iranian, the Islamic, the Jewish, and the Chinese calendars came together and offered me a haven away from the tyranny of the imperial Gregorian calendar.

I remember when the whole Y2K song-and-dance threatened the end of the world and the coming of apocalypse in the year 2000 on the Christian calendar, I told a reporter this was calendar imperialism and meant nothing to those equally happy within an Iranian, a Jewish, a Chinese, or an Islamic calendar. The reporter thought I was being mystical.

The avalanche of events in 2018 on the Gregorian calendar makes it impossible to pause for a moment and wonder what has happened to us over the past year. But pause we must.

This year, the more obnoxiousness the world leaders displayed, the more attention they demanded. The drama king of the news was of course Donald Trump, followed by Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Narendra Modi; Benjamin Netanyahu and his favourite Arab Prince Mohammad bin Salman were not too far behind.

First and foremost in this year of living dangerously were the environmental calamities which capitalist greed and unbridled abuse of our planet have caused. Dire warnings about climate........

© Al Jazeera