It’s become cliche to view 2016 as the worst year ever. Yes, it’s horrible that the most powerful country on the planet electing a twitchy fascist into power, that Brexit may have signaled the beginning of the end for the EU, and that we might be heading towards another arms race.
But it’s easy to focus on the bad and ignore the good. A lot of good happened in 2016, too, and while we can debate whether or not that outweighs the bad we shouldn’t forget the existence of that good. From here, I turn things over to Canada’s Favourite Astronaut, Chris Hadfield:
1. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.
2. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.
7. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.
8. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade has seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.
9. Air travel continues to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.
10. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.
42. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.
43. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.
44. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.
Notice that all of these highlights came about because people put in time, effort, and money to make them happen. If we want to make 2017 better than 2016, we should take the hint.