By Megan Roth
At the beginning of the new year it is normal and practically expected to review the previous year.
The general consensus for 2016 was that the year was awful.
Mostly this comes down to the mass amounts of celebrity deaths in 2016. Beginning with David Bowie in January and ending with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds in December.
However many wonderful things happened over the 12 months of 2016.
The civil war in Columbia ended after the government and the rebels agreed to lasting peace this past year that killed or displaced around seven million people. Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for his efforts to end the war.
The country of Sri Lanka is officially malaria free as of 2016.
The giant panda was removed from the endangered species list. Announced in September, 2016, the giant panda was moved from endangered to vulnerable.
Marco Lambertini, World Wildlife Federation director general said, “The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity.”
NASA is receiving truly amazing data from JUNO, the space probe that travelled 588 million miles to the giant gas planet Jupiter.
Albert Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves was proven correct in 2016. The theory has been questioned and tested for roughly a century before the waves were detected on Sept. 14, at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. This opens up the possibility of new study in the expanding cosmos.
An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with up to 100 per cent efficacy. More than 28,000 people fell ill from Ebola, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Some 11,300 died before the crisis was declared over in 2015.
There are many more examples of the wonders that occurred in 2016. Astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield has a list of 46 amazing things that happened over the year on his Twitter, @Cmdr_Hadfield, from Dec. 31.
Despite the massive steps forward the world has taken together, most still claim the year to be awful and a failure.
If it was personal and a sting of seemingly unending bad luck, that could be understandable.
For those who look at the triumph of the year based on the celebrity deaths in the year it makes one scratch their head.
Why? Why, when we as an entire global community achieved so much, are we so sure the year was terrible?
It is understandable to be upset at the loss of a person, or people, looked up to. Really it is.
That is possibly the reason why “2016 sucked.” Because so many lost those they idolized and looked up to. People who were there in an abstract way to give them courage, strength, understanding and even hope when maybe they felt there was none.
Two examples – because there were so many to choose from there simply isn’t room for more – are Carrie Fisher and David Bowie.
David Bowie, the music icon, passed away Jan. 10, 2016 after an 18-month battle with cancer.
His music touched people in a real and profound way. He championed mystery, rebellion and curiosity.
The loss of the icon was a blow to many, those who grew up with his music and those who found him years later.
Carrie Fisher died after complications to a heart attack Dec. 27, 2016. She was most known as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films.
Through that role she became a role model for girls everywhere. She taught ladies young and old to not be afraid to fight for yourself, to stand-up for what you believe in, and to not give up even when times seem dark.
Not only was she a role model to women everywhere, but she was an advocate for mental illness, suffering from bipolar disorder herself.
She actively spoke out about mental illness and became a role model to many for a completely different reason.
Yes, it is understandable to say the year was awful because many lost great icons and idols.
However, don’t discount the wonders the world has accomplished over a short 12 months.
Last year really wasn’t as bad as it seemed.