Finally! It’s time to name the year’s biggest winners. Here’s a spotlight on those who won, though not always in the conventional sense:
Nurses: Freindly Fire’s unsung heroes for 2015, nurses are on the frontlines in the war against pain and suffering. They are our constant companions in good times and bad, always there to administer medicine, assist with therapy and keep a watchful eye on those needing care. But infinitely more important — as this writer knows firsthand because the nurse he knew best was his mother — nurses offer something more: unrestrained love and kindness. From a reassuring look — to both patient and family — that everything will be OK, to holding a scared child’s hand from beginning to end, they are the humanity and light in an otherwise sterile and jargon-filled world. In an age where not getting personal with your patient seems to be standard operating procedure, nurses gleefully break that rule.
And for some, a smiling nurse’s face is the last thing they will see in this world. If you have to go, I can’t think of a better way. Thank you to those who heal not just our ailments, but our spirits.
Kate and William: More than anyone else on the planet, the Royal Couple, by their position and charisma, hold the key to leading the West out of its literal death spiral. The negative birth rates of Europe, Japan, and yes, America, have placed them on a course to end the most benevolent civilizations the world has ever known. Because of ill-advised cultural, economic and political decisions, birth rates have been plummeting, and all have fallen below the 2.1 children per family threshold necessary just to achieve zero population growth.
This, while the threat in the East continues to rise, as enemies sworn to oppose freedom multiply by the millions, menacing what is left of the West.
So Duchess, congratulations on Charlotte Elizabeth! Thank you for your example, and please keep them coming! Or else …
Ahmed the Clockboy: Well, it’s apparently acceptable to "build" your own alarm clock – a device replete with timer, protruding wires and electronic circuitry, and which makes beeping sounds — and bring it to class. And shame on teachers, administrators and law enforcement who thought it might have been a bomb and acted accordingly. After all, it’s not like we’re at war with terrorists, or that we’ve been attacked here in the homeland.
So because Ahmed was "wronged," he was invited to the White House and became the celebrity du jour to everyone from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to Twitter to MIT. (But despite all that, the disenfranchisement was just "too much" and he moved to Qatar).
So the blueprint for becoming a winner in today’s America is to cry foul every time someone legitimately calls you out on something, assert racial bigotry, play up the victim role ad nauseam, and, of course, sue. What a country!
Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and the Kardashians: Whether it’s being boosted by Millennials — the most narcissistic generation in history — living vicariously through these ultra-materialistic, do-whatever-makes-you-feel-good "Reality" TV celebrities, or the rest of America, tuning in to reassure themselves that their lives are "normal" compared to these Hollywood whackjobs, they are still "winners" because we’re still talking and gawking over them. But the really scary thought is that when they fall out of favor (and they will), who will take their place? Somehow Donald Trump comes to mind…
Trump: Love him or hate him, Donald is the ultimate showman. He has blown up what would have been an incredibly boring field of GOP candidates, and entertained the world with his off-the-cuff — albeit often nasty — remarks, especially when ripping Jeb Bush to shreds.
Will he win the nomination? No. And he’ll blame everyone and everything for his loss, except himself (sometimes life isn’t "fair," even to a multi-billionaire). But if you think he was restrained even a tiny bit as a candidate, just wait until we see Trump Unleashed during the general election as a "commentator." The word’s biggest ego needs to be fed, and there’s no better time than during a presidential election. Since addressing serious issues is a thing of the past, replaced by our insatiable desire to be entertained 24/7, Trump is in the right place, at the right time. The bigger question is: What’s he planning next?
The Pope: What’s not to love about Francis? Sure, some of his critics rail against his positions as too "liberal." But they are misguided, twisting his words into Right Vs. Left partisan politics when, in reality, the pontiff is masterfully bringing issues to the forefront in a way no one has done in decades. Basic human rights; climate change; eradicating poverty; and advocating tolerance and compassion. How can anyone argue that tackling these things is wrong? The debate should be about the best approaches to solving our problems — as they affect us all — but too often, it devolves into politics of derision.
Yet the Pope keeps forging ahead with his unprecedented salt-of-the-earth touch, and the contagious energy of someone half his age. Thank you, Your Holiness, for being a much-needed beacon of light, and a special thanks for visiting the City of Brotherly Love. We could not be prouder!
The Philadelphia 76ers: They are winners because of how pathetically inept they really are. After all, who wants to be just bad when you can be record-book awful? The all-time worst record in NBA history belongs to, of course, another 76ers team, who went 9-73. But given this team’s 2-31 showing thus far, barring a miraculous turnaround, they are poised to go down in the annals of sports lore. And it’s only fitting that it’s a Philly team, given that the Phillies have the most losses in human history (over 10,000), the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, and the Flyers last won a Stanley Cup during Gerald Ford’s presidency.
At least we have Rocky.
Big Oil: Finally! America has finally begun its reawakening by responsibly drilling its way toward energy independence. In doing so, we are accomplishing a triumvirate: extricating ourselves from the Middle East quagmire, putting significant money into people’s pockets through vastly lower gas prices (the average household saved $1,100 in 2015, equating to over $130 billion pumped backed into the economy), and revitalizing our moribund manufacturing base (which creates good-paying jobs).
Anytime we aren’t bent over a Middle Eastern oil barrel makes for a very good year. Drill, baby, drill!
Pharma: The advances made by our pharmaceutical companies this year simply boggle the mind. From drugs that are combatting melanoma to injecting biologics into DNA that repair mutated (and cancer-causing) strands, pharma is quickly marching toward the day when diseases that have taken so many of our loved ones prematurely will be eradicated. Shame on those so quick to criticize these companies as the Evil Empire, when there isn’t a single American whose life, or that of someone they know, hasn’t been made better, lengthened — or saved — by the work of the smartest people on Earth. Pharma research is America’s best medicine. Keep it up!
TJ Maxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods: For years, this column has hammered stores that opened on Thanksgiving, ripping families apart and placing profit over principle. But this year, not only did the above stores remain closed, but produced a fantastic commercial that talked about focusing on what really matters: Our families.
Bravo for having the guts to ignore the competition and do the right thing!
Happy New Year!
Look for the Biggest Losers next week.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at [email protected]