2016 you were one cold hard bitch of a year, but god dammit are we going to learn from you…
LIFE IS PRECIOUS
Prince, Bowie, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman, Leonard Cohen, Muhammad Ali. The list of celebrities who died in 2016 is like a roll call of celebrity greats, with many tragically dying far before their time. Coupled with this, the horrific terror attacks seen around the world that have claimed the lives of so many innocent civilians teaches us that life is precious and fragile, and that every moment we live is a gift that should be used to the fullest.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
If 2016 taught us one thing, it’s that literally anything can happen. Think of the most unprecedented, out there idea (like 2020 President Kanye), and in this crazy world we live in, it might actually happen. The world lost its shit this year as Britain historically voted to leave the European Union, followed sharply by the election of President Trump and the subsequent rise of far right parties across Europe. Who could possibly have predicted this drastic change in world politics two years ago, and in turn who now can possibly predict where the political rollercoaster will corkscrew next?
LOVE IS LOVE
As of 2016, same-sex marriage is legalised in The Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Argentina, Iceland, Portugal, Denmark, Brazil, England & Wales, France, New Zealand, Uruguay, Luxembourg, Scotland, Finland and Ireland. This is of course incredible progression from a world where 20 years ago same sex marriage was illegal in every country worldwide, but we still have a mountain to climb in terms of acceptance and understanding, with the Orlando nightclub attack that mercilessly claimed 49 lives one of the darkest clouds lurking over 2016. Here’s hoping 2017 is the year where love conquers all.
MIRACLES CAN HAPPEN
Don’t believe us? Well they how do you explain snowfall in the Sahara desert? Ok, so perhaps not a Jesus walking on water type miracle, but this news was still HUGE – we’re talking once in a lifetime type stuff. On December 19, the white stuff coated the gold stuff for the first time in 37 years, causing us all to oohh and aahh at the subsequent photography porn that covered our social feeds.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE UNDERDOGS
2016 in the year of sport was all about the underdogs taking down the big cheeses. From Iceland beating England in the Euros Quarter Finals, to American 28th seed Sam Querrey seeing off defending champion Novac Djokovic in the third round of Wimbledon, this year was nothing if not full of surprises. 2016 also saw the Cleveland Cavaliers (and an emotionally charged LeBron James) make the mother of all comebacks to win their first NBA title, not to mention Ireland historically beating the All Blacks for the very first time. But probably the biggest two fingers up to the big players crown must go to the small town English team Leicester City Football club, who beat off the biggest and richest teams in the country to monumentally win the 2016 Premier League. If you’re looking for a David vs Goliath story of modern times, this was it.
RAISING AWARENESS DOES WORK
Cast your mind back to the summer of 2014, and you may remember a certain internet challenge phenomenon known as the ice bucket challenge, which saw everyone from Mark Zuckerberg, to Rita Ora, to Anna Wintour, have a bucket of ice cold water chucked over their heads in aid of ALS, a neurological disease that causes motor neurons in the brain to slowly die. But far from this short lived craze being just that – short lived – the campaign raised an incredible $100m, and in 2016 the subsequent research that came from this funding allowed for a new gene to be discovered that is associated with ALS cases, meaning we are much closer to finding an effective treatment. Over in the animal kingdom, the WWF shared some incredible news; thanks to conservation successes in India, Russia & Nepal, tiger numbers are on the increase for the first time in a century, with 3,890 tigers now in the wild, up from 3,200 in 2010. And the good news keeps on coming – panda and manatee numbers are also on the up!
OUR PLANET NEEDS US
For sure 2016 brought us some environmental wins, from countries continuing to ban plastic bags and microbeads, to Obama banning oil drilling in large areas of the Artic and Atlantic oceans, but is it too little, too late? 2016 bought us the news that in the last 25 years alone, humans have destroyed a tenth of the Earth’s wilderness, and furthermore if we continue at the rate we’re going, we could be left with nothing at all within a century. Alongside this, it was also reported that as a result of human impact, we are set to lose a staggering two thirds of our wild animal population by 2020, unless drastic action is taken. In the words of David Attenborough in the closing scenes of Planet Earth II:
“It is surely our responsibility, to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just us, but for all life on earth.”
WE’RE BETTER TOGETHER
If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that we need each other now, more than ever before. We need kindness, humility, understanding, compassion, and that won’t come from hiding ourselves away at home. More than ever before we need to touch hands with our neighbours around the world, help those who are crying out in desperation, and educate ourselves on that which we do not understand. Far from building walls, shutting our gates, and passing judgment on things we don’t understand, we need to keep on traveling, keep on roaming, and keep our dreams alive. 2017, don’t let us down.