Most of us can agree that 2016 was a crappy year. It’s so easy to dwell on all the horrible things that happened this year, but some great things happened too.
Did you know…
- 24 countries and the European Union united to create the world’s largest marine reserve in Antarctica.
- Gravitational waves have finally been detected, proving that Einstein was right.
- The 22-year effort involving mass vaccinations has eradicated measles throughout the Americas.
- The FDA reported at the United Nations that America has more trees growing now than at any time since the 1920’s, thanks to conservation efforts and sustainable lumbering practices.
- Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, low-income, disabled, and English-learning students have all accomplished gains, creating a 83.2% graduation rate for the U.S.
- The U.S. has reached a new all-time low number of teen birth rates.
- The U.S. Treasury is placing great women and people of color on our currency; Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Historic figures of women’s suffrage; Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul on the $10 bill. Martin Luther King Jr. on the back of the $5 bill.
- The tiger population has grown 22%. With tiger populations in India, Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan on the rise, there are now 3,890 existing in the wild. Giant pandas and manatees both taken off the endangered list.
This year I turned 50 which is past middle-age (unless I live to 100). I can’t help but think of the things I’ve seen in my lifetime. I was born in 1966, so I’ve seen:
- The birth of cable TV, video games, 24-hour global news, music videos, the Walkman, CDs and DVDs, cell phones, the internet,Youtube and social media.
- The death of industry, specifically manufacturing, in the U.S.
- The U.S. and foreign Nations war with each other, as well as make peace with each other.
- The destruction of our rainforests and wild animal habitats, accompanied the exstinction of animal species.
- Polar ice caps melting and early signs of Global Warming.
- The birth of HIV and AIDS, and the alarming increase of Diabetes in the U.S.
- Advancements in science and medicine like the Human Genome Project.
- The LGBT community finally gain some civil rights and increasing acceptance.
- The election and successful two terms of our first African-American President.
Then there was all the bad stuff that happened this year. I won’t list them all, but for me, things that hurt most were; the loss of Carrie Fisher, the conflict at Standing Rock and the fire at the Ghostship in Oakland. I have to be honest, none of those things have directly affected me or my family, but the one thing that does…is the results of the Presidential election.
Looking forward, it’s easy to be fearful. What I fear most; the repercussions of Trump Presidency:
- My son and I stand to lose our Obamacare, which would be devastating since we both have chronic illnesses that require regular care. More than 11 million other Americans are at risk.
- The placement of oil industry executives into the President’s cabinet. I believe it will accelerate global warming, putting us all in danger… especially the homeless and those below the poverty line.
- The destruction of our civil rights. I fear that hate crimes and police brutality towards against African-Americans will increase, and worse yet, be condoned by our government. I fear we will go back to Trump’s “good old days” of racism, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and senseless acts of hate.
- The denial of Global Warming. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Global warming is already having significant and harmful effects on our communities, our health, and our climate. Sea level rise is accelerating. The number of large wildfires is growing. Dangerous heat waves are becoming more common. Extreme storm events are increasing in many areas. More severe droughts are occurring in others.”
- More natural disasters caused by Global Warming, which means more people will suffer and die, not to mention the loss of communities, infrastructure and agriculture. Loss of crops means less food to go around, which could lead to famine.
It’s all bad news, so I find myself starting 2017 with plenty of things to fear. I have to ask myself, what is left have hope for?
My answer is always my faith in humanity.
I believe that the goodness of the human spirit will get us through somehow. Looking at our history, some humans have committed the worst atrocities, while others have survived those same horrors. We are capable of so much good and evil, but we do have a choice.
I was recently reminded of our long relationship with the earth, our intelligence and our strong survival instinct. I watched my favorite documentary, The Journey of Man , which follows the journey of the first humans, from Africa to the rest of the world. These early humans survived century-long migrations, ice ages, drought and famine.
The film traces all of our ancestors back to Africa. Through genetic research, it’s proven that we are ALL African from the same race of people our people. We all descend from the original immigrants; humans. This makes the concept of racism obsolete.
This gives me hope… hope that humans can and will survive, hope that we can break loose from the fear, greed and hate that makes us do horrible things. I hope that we are still evolving, using more of our brains, embracing compassion and regaining a respect for Mother Earth.
I choose hope.
P.S. If you need a reminder of how amazing humanity is, watch The Journey of Man. You can watch a poor quality bootleg on Youtube. I wanted to support PBS so I bought the DVD and I’m happy to loan you my copy. Just email me.