That header, the title above, seems strange to type out and read – saying it and hearing myself say it is even stranger. At this point I have to admit even I’m not sure if I’m being sarcastic or not.
But was it really that terrible a year? As horrible as we’re all imagining it? Bear with me as I list out some reasons why many people might think it was before I get to my main point today:
- The refugee crisis flooding into Europe after the devastation in Syria and the general rise in warfare globally.
- The E.U teetering with “Brexit” (I’m starting to hate this making-up-stupid-catchy-words business) and since as the holes in the Bloc are showing and the majority of the member states are in shite condition.
- The seemingly inordinate number of iconic famous deaths, from celebs to scientists to authors and so many others.
- The Zika virus outbreak that had people freaking out the world over, the sequel to the Ebola scare that preceded it.
- Demonetisation of money on Nov. 8th in India which threw the country into quite a lot of economic chaos.
- Escalation of racial tensions in abundance in the U.S.A with protests, riots, police beatings, the police themselves under the spotlight and the politics of the election that seemed to feed all of this.
- The U.S election that had the world on tenterhooks and (in my personal opinion) saw the election of a seemingly bigoted, elitist, severely narcissistic and ruthless power-monger to the highest office of the country. Not saying Hillary was a better option but I’d be hard pressed to assume she would have been worse based on data available right now.
- Caste, race and religious tensions rising in the Indian subcontinent with violent attacks in Bangladesh and severe, at times bloody unrest in different parts of India from Kashmir to the southern states.
- Pakistan seeming more and more unstable to many and China continuing to strong-arm the world with their influence there with their intended transit corridor through Pakistan – antagonising India and doing the same thing the U.S has done for years, prop up Pakistan as a buffer to the more extreme Islamic world in West Asia and a strategic launching point, a check to India in the region and essentially a place that teeters on one brink or another.
- Record pollution levels in China and India and other areas where it was a whole new level of health hazard endangering people.
- Vladimir Putin on the rise as a power player on the global scale as a shocking number of people seem to feel more positive toward him than ever before and the fact that they are in the political sphere as well does nothing but make it even more alarming.
- The sudden surge the last couple of years in the Right-Wing political sphere almost world-wide that seemed to really come to a head this year.
Oh I’m sure there’s more and I’m sure there’s a lot to be added to the list. Feel free to mention them in the comments if you like. That is a shortlist of some pretty terrible news – and it makes me think of 2017 and the years to follow in not a very hopeful light because let’s be honest, while it’s a “new year”, what has changed that will make it better? Won’t the effects of 2016 just continue? Wouldn’t that just mean it gets worse?
But what we also tend to forget that there were good things that have happened in the past year and while I’m not exactly known for being a ray of sunshine, I do like to try and look at different sides of things and keep an open mind. SO, with this in mind I started thinking back to the things that happened in the year, big and small, and started looking some of it up.
This is what I found to be good things that happened in 2016:
- Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar!! ..okay fine, I was just being a smart ass here to start off, but seriously, it was unexpected given historical precedent and so fits the list for me. 🙂
- Boko Haram. A name that brought forth images of viciousness and evil – well in 2016, over 800 of their hostages were rescued.
- For the first time since 1054, Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church met in person, talked and declared each other brother. I’m not one for religion, but I appreciate its power for believers and things like this show me they can do more than just create rifts.
- The Rabbinical Assembly (International assembly of conservative Rabbi’s) gave a resolution affirming the rights of transgender and nonconformist people. Definitely a change of pace!
- An Afghan teacher was bicycling to villages that didn’t have schools and bringing the children books – major respect to this guy. This is a teacher.
- The government of Columbia and the FARC rebels ended 50 years of civil war as they came to the table to work toward peace – it’s things like this that give you hope.
- Indian people came together for a green-drive and planted 50 million trees in a single day. That’s 24 hours. I say other countries should take this as a challenge!!
- The Giant Panda went from “endangered” to “vulnerable” – okay fine, it’s not a huge distinction if you think too hard about it, but it’s a step in the right direction and it’s progress.
- The world Tiger population saw an upswing too, though in this case for the first time in over a century!
- In the U.S, a Black woman (Harriet Tubman) will be the first black woman on currency as she is placed on he $20 note.
- Relations between the U.S and Cuba… well for the first time in ages there was scope for there to be real relations beyond being antagonists.
- Multiple countries came together in an unprecedented way to establish the Worlds Largest Marine Reserve – about 600,000 sq km – near Antarctica where commercial activities like fishing will be prohibited. Scientific research/tests if approved will be allowed.
- Pakistan is trying to outlaw Honour Killings. It may not seem like much to some western folks, but trust me, it’s a big deal for conservative countries like Pakistan to move in that direction.
- Child mortality rates continued dropping worldwide. This is awesome news.
- Actual global crime rates also dropped in 2016, a trend continued over the past entire decade – it may not seem/feel like it sometimes and in some places and going by the way the news loves to sensationalise things (shame on you global news media!) but it is the case nonetheless.
- 70,000 Muslim clerics came out with fatwa’s saying groups like IS, Al-Qaida and others were non-Islamic and wrong and should be stopped. Okay fine, this one was December 2015, but it felt like it was close enough to 2016 and generally worth repeating!
- The Panama Papers came out – even as people have been ringing the death knell for genuine journalism, the ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) proved them wrong by showing what they could do with the release of these documents, the repercussions of which are even now slowly being felt.
- Scientists managed to link robotic limbs to the part of the brain that has “intent” to move – meaning you think it and it moves. WOOHOO! Shiny new robot body, here I come! ..ahem, moving on…
- THE FRIKKIN’ OZONE LAYER IS REPAIRING ITSELF! Seriously, it seems like any living organism, our planet can heal – and that includes the ozone layer. So I guess cutting down on all those CFC’s and aerosols wasn’t a bad idea after all. Maybe this means we should listen to the people talking about cutting down on activity that aggravates global warming…?
- Portugal (the whole country) ran on renewable energy… FOR 4 STRAIGHT DAYS. Yup, a whole country ran on solar, wind and hydro power for four days – and this was just a very short bit after Germany ran the country with renewable energy for a whole day and found that the price of power on that day started turning negative – effectively paying citizens to use electricity. Imagine that!
- Sri Lanka was declared Malaria-free!
- The America’s were declared Measles free by the WHO – so clearly we’re gaining some ground in the fight against diseases!
- Precision cancer treatments entered the clinical trial stage and show tremendous promise. (wow, medical science may not be sucking as bad as we thought… huh..)
- Scientist Sophien Kamoun created a tomato resistant to a fungal disease that tomatoes are very susceptible to by using only just-maturing gene-editing technology. If used properly, it has the potential to reverse mutations that cause blindness and prevent cancer-cell multiplication. For a start.
- The worlds first global circumnavigation flight in a 100% solar-powered plane was completed. By a dude who was once afraid of heights (or so he claims!).
- Nearly at the end and definitely not least was the discovery of Gravitational Waves, distortions in the very fabric of space-time, first theorised by (who else!) Albert Einstein in 1916 – essentially shaking the world of Physics all over the place, like main-lining some serious stimulant! Can’t wait to see where the newly super-charged physicists go from here!
- And as I close out the list, on a personal note, something small and nowhere as exciting and such as the other things on this list… DEADPOOL THE MOVIE!!! Between this and Captain America: Civil War, it was a fantastic year for geeks like me and was along with some fantastic new television, a jolt in the arm of creativity in the cinematic and live-action medium. The surge of creativity, diversity, experimentation and interest has the potential to inspire so much more in all of us and of course, be just flat-out loads more fun.
As we come to the bottom of this list, if you’re still with me, kudos and respect to you for not giving in to cynicism! Also remember, this is literally a short-list (though I’m sure it didn’t feel like it) and there was a lot more that can be added here – feel free to send me more positives if you like, maybe I’ll make a public list anyone can update on good things that happened.
You may or may not believe that everything on my list is accurate and perhaps I’m quoting questionable news sources. Hey maybe I am, I’m just one lone Dude and do not have a team to help me verify everything – that’s probably part of why I tend to stick to opinions and fiction. But in fact YOU are my team here, if I’ve got a faulty entry, let me know so I can remove it – and in the meantime I imagine we could all do with some scanning of positive news stories and good things so you’ll have that as you scrutinise my list above on Google’s search engine.
In the end, the point of this list was not to show that the world is hunky-dory and all is right with it. It wasn’t to try to gloss over the bad things that happened this past year, because there was a LOT of bad that happened that will likely lead to more bad in the year(s) ahead.
The point of this exercise was to remind myself, and those of you still reading, that a lot of good things continued to happen – and while media and our own survival instincts and collective fear makes us focus on the bad for our own safety, the world is a better place in many respects today than it was not too long back and for all intents and purposes, is still getting better.
So think positive. Remember that there is positive change all around you even when you often don’t see it. Keep an eye on the bad people and bad things, that’s just smart, but also keep moving forward (as Pops would say!) and hope for a better world in spite of the bad that keeps trying to screw things up.
Happy New Year everyone, all the best to you and here’s hoping always.