What we can take away from 2017

Amy McNeel

I think that 2017 will leave a lasting scar on history. It was a year when bad things seemed to always be looming in the shadows, if not standing in broad daylight. It was also a year of great change, filled with both highs and lows, devastating heartbreak and magnificent strength. For me, thinking about the year of 2017 is almost overwhelming, and I can’t say that I’m sad to let it go. Right now, at the beginning of 2018, we are all presented with an opportunity to look back at 2017, recognize its tragedies and its joys, and learn from them. We all have the opportunity to better ourselves and to make 2018 a year that is full of good instead of plagued with loss. In order to do this, let’s take a look back at 2017. 

The year started off with controversy and unease as President Donald Trump took over the Oval Office. Trump’s inauguration took place on Jan. 20, 2017, and news stations nationwide reported on the minimal turnout, much to Trump’s dismay. Throughout the year, Trump was largely placed under scrutiny by many U.S. citizens. He became known as the “Twitter president,” as he continuously threw his opinions on the popular social media site. Trump decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, passed one of the largest tax reforms of all time and has led a booming economy. Trump’s presidency has continuously been one of controversy and has been a divider of the American people. 

This past year was also plagued with many tragedies, from terrorist attacks to natural disasters. On May 22, a bomb was detonated at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, killing 22 people and injuring many more. Later in the year, on Oct. 1, the U.S. experienced one of the deadliest mass shootings in its history. What is now known as the Las Vegas massacre left 58 dead and more than 500 injured. These attacks are only two of many, which include, but are not limited to, the Westminster Bridge attack, the van ramming in Barcelona and the Texas church shooting. 

Along with these acts of terrorism, the world faced many natural disasters. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma both resulted in extreme flooding and damage in the Caribbean and the southern U.S. Along with these hurricanes, huge monsoons flooded Bangladesh; wildfires spread through California; and Mexico experienced a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. According to Hiroko Tabuchi of The New York Times, 2017 had the most losses from natural disasters thus far, and “insurers are set to pay out a record $135 billion to cover losses from” them. 

All of these tragedies combined to make 2017 an infamous year. However, with the darkness there is also some light. After the Manchester Arena bombing, Ariana Grande put on a benefit concert called One Love Manchester, which, according to Time Magazine, raised more than $13 million for the victims of the attack. Acts of heroism followed the natural disasters, and communities came together to support victims. In December, Australia legalized same-sex marriage. 2017 was also a year of great advancement for women. In September, Saudi Arabia granted women the right to drive, and in October, the hashtag campaign #MeToo went viral, bringing awareness to sexual harassment and assault. In the end, Time named “The Silence Breakers” as its Person of the Year. 

In no way was 2017 perfect. It was often heartbreaking and disappointing, but it also had moments of hope. With the new year just at its start, we can take the good things that happened in 2017 and continue to progress. 2018 is a new start. It is a chance for us all to do better, to be stronger and to continue to stand for what we believe in. It’s evident that in the midst of terror, society mends itself to be even stronger than before. So, following a year of heartbreak, we can all come back stronger and ready for whatever 2018 throws our way.