It’s a statement on repeat. The headlines, the water cooler conversations, and in our very psyche as a society. Fear has become an everyday reality for millions, negativity has become the norm. Trump. ISIS. Brexit. Syria. The list goes on.
I too, sat in a daze staring at incredulous election results in the early morning hours of November 9th. I sat and joked with British friends in mid-June, nonchalantly disregarding the potential of Brexit’s success. I lived in ignorance as the Syrian War resulted in thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths.
So f**k 2016. Right?
Wrong. We can’t. This is a moment in history where negativity and a sense of nationalism is a response simply not good enough. It is times like these when the world needs compassion, kindness, and optimism.
The news that was filled with positivity and progress in 2016 has been ignored in favor of this narrative of negativity that has dominated our collective consciousness. But humans have made progress in 2016. In fact, a lot of progress.
Citizen action, the response to Ebola, and the cost of energy are three examples of why moments like the US Election and the UK Referendum are not the only headlines we should pay attention to while looking back on 2016.
1. Citizen Action
Compassionate Jordanians, Germans, Canadians, and others have welcomed Syrian refugees into their communities. Ordinary Americans have taken to the streets to speak out for their fellow citizens who were victims of police violence, and stood in support of police officers who were victims of attacks of retaliation.
2. The End to Ebola
Ebola threatened to spread beyond West Africa and was predicted to take hundreds of thousands of human lives. It was stopped, when Liberia was officially declared free of the disease this year. And it was stopped not by some Washington-created strategy, but by Liberian church ministers, Sierra Leonean youth group leaders, Guinean community health workers – ordinary people who took the course of their country’s history into their own hands.
3. Renewable Energy Cost
Did you know that global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels did not increase at all in 2016? And speaking of energy, solar has reached a tipping point, now being cheaper or the same price as fossil fuels in many parts of the world.
I get it, 2016 was unexpected. And in many ways, it sucked. But beyond those headlines there were signs of human progress in all facets of life, and for these reasons we should celebrate 2016.