2016 Actually Wasn’t Too Bad


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Contrary to what the media and most people might say, 2016 was not a bad year by any means. Yes, a lot of celebrities may have died (including Prince, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, and more), the year was riddled with terror attacks that cost the lives of hundreds, the nation was split apart in one of the most controversial and offensive elections to date, the flood of Syrian migrants continued, Turkey had a coup, the Zika virus ran rampant, Harambe was killed, the United Kingdom seceded from the European Union, North Korea carried out more nuclear tests, and an entire Brazilian soccer team died in a plane crash. However, 2016 was still a good year, right? Right?

All things considered, this was actually one of the best years we have seen in a long time. Regardless of where in the world you look at or in what time era, every year is faced with the same issues: deaths of certain individuals, natural disasters, tragic accidents, and violent conflicts. Each event is dreadful, yes, but we cannot let them overshadow the larger picture. As each year goes by, the world, slowly but surely, becomes a better place; technology and medicine advance, the world economy grows, cities boom, jobs are created, and so on. Looking back at 2016, all of that happened and more.

An article by medium.com by Angus Hervey does a great, comprehensive job of compiling all of the beneficial events that happened this year, from conservation successes to political changes. This article is worth taking a look at on its own but to name a few:

  • “After nearly 13 years of difficult negotiations, Malaysia established a 1 million hectare marine park that pioneers a mixed-use approach to marine conservation. – The Guardian”
  • “Malawi achieved a 67% reduction in the number of children acquiring HIV, the biggest success story across all sub-Saharan nations. Since 2006, they’ve saved 260,000 lives. – Al Jazeera”
  • “World hunger reached its lowest point in 25 years. – The New York Times”
  • “Denmark became the first country to no longer define being transgender as a mental illness, and Canada announced a ban on transgender discrimination. – The Telegraph”
  • “Global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels did not grow at all in 2016. It’s the third year in a row emissions have flatlined. – Scientific American”
  • “In November, India unveiled the world’s largest solar power plant, and revealed that it is now on track to be the world’s third biggest solar market in 2017. – Al Jazeera”
  • “Three years ago Honduras was the most dangerous place on earth. Since then community crime programs have achieved a remarkable reduction in violence. – The New York Times”
  • “Norway became the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation. – The Independent”
  • “In July, more than 800,000 volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in one day. The country is planning on reforesting 12% of its land. – National Geographic”
  • “At this year’s CITES conference, 183 countries agreed to the strongest protections ever for endangered animals, with big wins for parrots, rhinos, porpoises, rays and elephants. – Washington Post”
  • “SeaWorld agreed to stop breeding captive killer whales. – NPR”
  • “In 2016, charitable giving in China rose to $15 billion, a 10 fold increase from just a decade ago. – Bloomberg”
  • “Germany took in an additional 300,000 refugees in 2016, despite growing concerns about integration and a backlash from populists. – The Guardian”

The article lists a whopping 99 different events in total, compiled from various news agencies, that made 2016 an awe-inspiring year and every example is worth reading–these are just a few. If just one mere article is able to find 99 different events that contradicted what the media has said, then 2016 obviously wasn’t too bad of a year.

Each tragedy brings its own ripple of grief and mourning; yet it also presents a new opportunity for a lesson to be learned. Society hasn’t progressed to where it is now without making mistakes and learning from them. For example, four years from now we could learn that electing an outsider into office was a mistake and that we should never repeat it, or it could just as easily be a success story. Either way, we learn something new. Honestly, how one sees one tragedy is how they see the world: either as a glass half full or a glass half empty. Do not let the few negative events of 2016 shape your view of the entire year; these events occur every year and you will just be disappointed with life if that is all you focus on. Instead, look at the positive side of life and relish in the fact that things will only get better as they always have.