By Samantha Goodman, photo by Angela Tilley
As we enter the last month of 2016, it is time to reflect on the year and everything that happened in it. There were many huge events—including the Brussels terror attacks, the summer Olympics in Rio, Hurricane Matthew, Britain’s exit from the European Union, and the United States presidential election. The year also saw a slew of celebrity deaths, including Prince, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, and Harper Lee.
Likely because of this, I have overwhelmingly heard people declare 2016 a bad year—a year that everyone wants to set behind them. I, for one, absolutely hate this new trend. How can you declare a year filled with ups and downs a bad year? How can you only focus on the negative events and allow them to shape the tone of an entire year?
Instead of focusing on the negative like it is so easy to do, I want to focus on the positive. According to the Telegraph, a new chemotherapy breakthrough in 2016 has increased the pancreatic cancer recovery rate from 16 per cent to 17 per cent. This is not the only medical breakthrough—scientists have figured out how to link robotic limbs with the part of the brain that deals with intent to move. This means that people with prosthetics don’t have to think about how they will move a limb, it just happens.
Does everyone remember the ALS ice bucket challenge that took over social media in 2014? Well, in 2016 pouring cold water with ice over your head actually made a difference in the world. The gene responsible for ALS has been found, meaning that we are closer to an effective treatment.
We have also made major strides in areas outside the world of medicine. For example, Pakistan has implemented provisions to outlaw honour killings, world hunger is the lowest it has been in a long time, and according to the Washington Post, world crime rates are down. This should be cause to celebrate.
If that isn’t enough, what about the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar? Who knew we would live to see the day? Or the fact that 2016 was the year of Pokemon Go? You might not admit it, but we all know that everyone played it as their guilty pleasure.
What about the simple things that we do not directly know about? Like volunteers in India planting 50 million trees in 24 hours? Or the ozone layer on its way to repairing itself through us getting rid of aerosol chemicals? Or the strides we have made all over the world with same-sex marriage?
What about the technological advancements? In 2016, the first around-the-world flight by a solar-powered plane was completely by Solar Impulse 2 on Nov. 29 in Abu Dhabi. Or the immune engineering breakthrough, where genetically engineered immune cells are saving the lives of cancer patients? Or individuals such as Stefanie Tellex from Brown University, who has found a breakthrough in robots learning tasks and sending knowledge to the Cloud for other robots to pick up.
With each tragedy the world has faced in 2016, there has been a huge outpouring of support. With the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida, people from around the world shared their solidarity with the victims’ families. With the death of celebrity icons, we were able to remember such important figures and everything they have done for the world.
Like any year, 2016 had its good days and its bad days. Instead of focusing on the negative, we should take a minute and look at the beautiful things that happened in 2016 that made the world a better place