Flip on any news channel or pick up a newspaper, and you'll see plenty of tragedy. Unfortunately, that's what our brains remember most.
At this point in the year, I'm ready to hear some good news. If you're like me, you may enjoy reading positive highlights of 2016:
Since 2010, Starbucks has donated unsold food. This year, they discovered a way to donate perishable food in such a way that it doesn't spoil, and added such items to the list of foods they donate to needy families throughout America.
Other acts of philanthropy have brightened up the year, too. Progressive news/comedy host John Oliver bought $15 million worth of medical school debt - and then repaid it, forgiving over 9,000 students' loans. The city of Las Angeles approved a deal to convert unused motel units into homes for 500 homeless veterans, and 400 dental clinics offered $2,000,000 in free care for veterans. Also, Canada's new child financial assistance will redistribute money from the highest earners to benefit "90 percent of families" in the country.
It hasn't been a bad year for animals, either. Entrepreneuring dog-lovers started up the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, a safe place for elderly animals that might otherwise be euthanized. Sherlock was rescued just hours before euthanasia, and now serves as a therapy dog for an autistic child.
The medical fields achieved their fair share of successes. The first gene therapy for children with autoimmune diseases was approved in Europe, and new treatments for a rare childhood cancer are shrinking tumors and curing kids. For the elderly, doctors developed vaccines that vastly improve Alzheimer's prevention. All ages will benefit from the newfound cure for MS and the discovery of a critical gene in ALS (thanks to donations from the ice water bucket challenge). An Israeli biotech firm's new radiation therapy eases radiation sickness.
Speaking of science, remember the ozone layer? It's actually repairing itself, likely due to the banning of certain chemicals in the 1980s. Little things really do add up!
Finally, in many places, justice was served. At 17, Jarrett Adams received 28 years in prison for crimes he didn't commit. Not only did he attend college after his exoneration, but just started practicing law in New York. In May, a free women's legal clinic opened up in Vancouver to fight for poor and struggling residents. In America, courts upheld Net Neutrality, ensuring that the internet remains open-access.
It's normal to feel overwhelmed by tragedies, but many lives have improved throughout the world. Every single month ushers in new opportunities and miracles, like the MS patient named Jennifer who never expected to stand again, but now walks in high heels.
This doesn't erase the evil, but these bright spots offer us reasons to cope with the evil and keep fighting it. For example, 2015 saw the most charity donations among Americans in any year before, topping $373.25 billion.
Let's make 2016 even better.