Last year was rough for many around the world. At home, it was the first year of President Donald Trump — a man who has made serious racial and religious discriminatory remarks and whose presidential campaign is still under investigation for potential collision with Russian officials. It was also the deadliest year of mass shootings in modern U.S. history, with the Las Vegas incident still fresh as the worst of attacks in our times.
Natural disasters shook the country and many others around the world: Hurricane Harvey hit right at home in Texas; Hurricane Maria caused mass destruction in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic; Hurricane Irma in Florida and the Caribbean; a massive earthquake killed over 200 in Mexico; a monsoon flooding in Bangladesh caused 1,200 deaths; a mudslide took 200 lives in Colombia; and the list goes on.
Armed conflicts globally have killed and displaced tens of thousands of people: Civil wars in countries like Syria, Iraq and Somalia, the War in Afghanistan and the Mexican Drug War, to name a few. The economic and political crisis in Venezuela has starved the country.
On the other hand, not everything in 2017 was demise and suffering. The year kicked off a massive Women’s March against hate and in support of inclusion, reproductive rights, racial equality, LGBTQ rights, freedom of religion, the environment and more. January 21, 2017 has come to be the largest single-day protest in our country’s history, with marchers joining in over 80 other countries.
The LGBTQ community saw big wins with the legalization of same-sex marriage in countries like Germany, Austria, Malta and Australia.
The victories for women continued at the end of the year as a significant list of influential men with sexual misconduct histories came to light. From film mogul Harvey Weinstein and NBC News Anchor Matt Lauer to the Republican party’s Senate nominee in Alabama Roy Moore, women courageously came forward in accusing men who have been predators for as long as decades in what became the #MeToo movement.
The beginning of a new year is usually a sign of hope for many, especially those of us living in financially advantaged societies. It ignites the possibility of positive personal change, which can usually translate into change in our communities at large. Individual resolutions can make all the difference. Whether your desire is to exercise more, eat healthier, get a better job, or simply be a kinder person, all of these things can go a long way in building impactful societies with higher chances of growth.
It is our responsibility to continue to engage in civic affairs to assist the most vulnerable people around us. We, the people, have a key role to play in shaping the country that we want to live in today and in the future.
As we spend time reflecting on 2017, let’s also welcome 2018 with open arms, an attitude of optimism and a spark for constructive transformation in our own communities and beyond.