Here’s to you, 2017

A look back at 2016 and outlook on the New Year


The final strip of the “Calvin & Hobbes” comic series by Bill Watterson (December 31, 1995)

By Mark Lu and David Coe

Alas, we’ve made it. The 366-day storm of political animosity, celebrity passings and Internet memes that is the year 2016 has officially come to a close, marked by the numerical countdown hailed each year with cheering and partying. This year, however, the tone will be quite different – the countdown will carry sentiments more bittersweet than celebratory.

This past year, humanity has endured such polarizing events as the economically intoxicating Brexit referendum and brutal American presidential election, both of which viciously divided minds worldwide. Fake news, far-right bigotry and liberal condescension inhibited respectful discussion and clouded the political atmosphere with petty sparring, separating families and friends alike.

In 2016, countless people found their homes and loved ones taken from them in Syria. Terrorist attacks occupied news headlines worldwide, asphyxiating the hopes of battle-worn refugees seeking asylum in other countries and facilitating the growth of nationalistic sentiment across the Western world. The Zika virus corroded the health of northern South America, global temperatures reached an all-time high and police shootings took place across the U.S., instilling violence and protesting.

We mourned the deaths of Nancy Reagan, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, John Glenn, Leonard Cohen, Dylan Rieder, Gene Wilder, Dave Mirra, Anton Yelchin, Mohamed Ali, Garry Shandling, Harper Lee, George Michael and Carrie Fisher, among countless other legends.

We “Ju-Ju’d” to that beat, dabbed to Desiigner and mourned the loss of Vine. We witnessed countless Internet trends come and go – Damn, Daniel, Kermit the Frog, Pepe, Dat Boi, Spongegar, Mr. Krabs, Arthur, Obama and Biden, and most frustratingly, Harambe the Gorilla.

There’s no doubt that this year’s New Year’s celebrations will be met with more a reformative attitude than reflective – as all New Year’s celebrations should. The most important mindset to have going into the New Year is “Let’s do better,” especially when life isn’t going so swell. This year, however, a hopeful outlook on the New Year will hold more weight than ever before, especially in the lives of young people everywhere.

In 2017, let’s make a collective effort to be more accepting of varying viewpoints, identity and rhetoric. Let’s start with the general disdain with Trump – defined best by an excerpt from a comment in response to a column by Thomas Denome in The Epitaph reading, “Simply making comparisons to totalitarian dictators does not constitute a valid argument.”

Communities thrive off of a diverse collective of belief; use communication, discussion and mutual respect to challenge instead of nullify – rather than attacking the President-elect for being orange, inquire. Don’t hesitate to communicate, don’t wait to question and never close yourself off. In 2017, widen your circle and own your beliefs confidently and nonaggressively. High-five more strangers, try pink eyeliner, strut like you’re in a musical and take each step with pomp and circumstance.

Next year, we act as leaders, as luminaries who embrace the differences in mindsets across diverse minds, which means less unfriending on Facebook, less blocking on social media and saying “we” more often than “me.” Agree to disagree. Avoid alienating others, but also work towards your own happiness. Act as your own coach, become your own confidante. Take risks. Ask that boy/girl to prom. Thank your librarian. Wake up early. Wear granny panties. Read The New Yorker. Set Internet Explorer as your default browser for a day. Be adventurous, curious and unafraid.

In 2016, the medical community neared a breakthrough in developing an HIV cure as well as a huge stride in ALS treatment thanks to the funds raised by the Ice Bucket challenge. Giant pandas were taken off the endangered species list. Ebola was eradicated from West Africa, world hunger reached a 25-year low, the homeless population in America decreased by 35% from 2007 and Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Academy Award.

There will always be clouds in the sky, but sooner or later, the sun appears. Let’s take advantage of the next year and resolve to practice acceptance, moral diplomacy, consolidation, inclusiveness and positivity.

Here’s to 2017. Let’s all do better next year.

A note from an author: assume the attitude of the song “Someone In The Crowd” from the “La La Land” soundtrack. Listen to it – and remember to smile next year!