There have been the usual number of suicide bombers. Authoritarian populism seems to be on the increase across Europe and the USA. One celebrity after another has gone to meet their maker. All in all, a pretty grim year. In the words of Tina Turner, I found myself asking Is that all there is?
So I decided to look at the other side of the coin. Amid the carnage of Syria and Yemen are medical and aid workers, putting their own lives at risk in order to save others, and living in the same impossible conditions, showing that solidarity and humanity are not dead.
Right here in Frigiliana there's a different story to be told, too. A story of two groups of women, one Spanish, one British, who have been getting together for most of this year to knit blankets, scarves, mittens and bonnets for the refugees crowded into camps in Europe, as well as bonnets for children in Málaga suffering hair loss as they undergo chemotherapy. Or the story of this past weekend, when over 500kg of food were donated for the benefit of those who are in dire need this Christmas, as well as more than €750 which will go to the local branch of Cáritas. Alongside this there is the campaign, No Child Without A Toy, to which people donate gifts for the Feast of the Magi, so that no child will be left out of the celebration.
Having started down this path, other things come to mind. I had two bad falls this year. In one I broke my arm badly. In the other it was my watch and my glasses that bore the brunt, though I managed to repaint my face with bruises fit to scare young children. On both occasions people rushed to help me, total strangers who saw someone in trouble and got involved. Two girls I never got a chance to thank, who rolled their jumpers into a pillow as I lay on the floor waiting for the ambulance, the fellow member of our tour group, German by birth, who insisted on coming to the hospital with Mary to act as interpreter. In Winchester, I was taken in hand by two members of the nearby station staff who took me to their staff room, provided me with paper towels to clean up the blood, gave me water to drink and then escorted me across to the platform to catch the train home.
I thought of the warm and caring attitude of hospital staff as I struggled to resurrect my schoolboy German, of the continuing concern and little acts of practical help offered by our friends here in the village, of the locum chaplain at my wife's church who came to the house to see me and stayed chatting for a couple of hours.
I think, too, of the evident humanity and compassion for others that I encounter every day among my Facebook friends.
And I think of all these things being repeated always and everywhere by ordinary people who will never attract media attention.
My conclusion? That there is far, far more good in this world than evil, and if I focus my attention on that, 2017 is going to be a wonderful year. I hope yours is, too.