Ten Reasons Why You Should be Thankful for 2016

Ten Reasons Why You Should be Thankful for 2016

Thought 2016 was a year to forget? These events may make you want to think again.
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we only have around seven weeks until 2016 is over, one could sense relief that this wild, overwhelming, and putrid year is about to come to an end. From a presidential election which takes out the worst from those in 1968 and 2000 and then some, to multiple beloved stars dying; from a deadlocked Syrian Civil War with a refugee crisis leaving governments and civilians alike debating whether to take in more, to attacks from Nice to Ankara; combined with the apocalyptic/false stories heard on social media, one may want to forget mentioning 2016 when discussing the story of their life.

However, this article was not meant to wallow in things such as rigging and Brexit or any other tragedy which made 2016 so suboptimal. Instead, with Thanksgiving coming up, here are some things we should be thankful for this year.

1. 2016 is now the warmest year on record:

On the surface, this is not a good thing. On the other hand, this is a recognition that global warming is indeed happening and therefore, we must implore our communities and our governments around the world to take meaningful action to combat this phenomenon. This is also important because CO2 emissions also crossed the 400 ppm threshold; if these don’t suggest human-afflicted climate change is something that needs improving on, nothing can.

2. Bernie Sanders’ candidacy

And the overwhelming enthusiasm that several millennials I’ve observed towards his candidacy. With policies ranging from debt-free college to increased taxation on the wealthy, this is a platform more progressive than the Democratic party has seen. Even though he would lose the race to the nomination, he is bound to take a leading role in the Democratic party for the next four years.

3. Third Parties

Namely, the Green and Libertarian parties, represented by Jill Stein and Gary Johnson in the 2016 presidential election. While they didn’t get that many votes, their alternative points of view forced most of us to reconsider our points of views and think about building alternative parties to the Democrats and the Republicans.

4. The Rio Olympics

Prior to the games, we’ve heard about the myriad of problems the city of Rio de Janiero had to combat, ranging from dirty waters to political corruption. Even though they would continue to fester during and after the games, with Dilma Rousseff impeached sometime after, we’ve had a bunch of amazing moments. From a creative opening ceremony featuring parkour and a message about climate change (see #1), to seeing the exploits of the old guard and the new alike, while it didn’t transcend the controversy, it still provided for good television. Who wouldn't want to watch the Olympics?

5. The impossible made possible

No, not in election and referendum results, but rather, in the sports realm outside the Olympics. From Leicester City’s defying 5000/1 odds to win the Premier League title (and with two games to spare, no less!), to the city of Cleveland finally having a sports title from the Cavaliers (despite going down 3-1 to the Warriors, who are phenomenal all by themselves), these surprise sports stories can make a young child, or a championship deprived-team, dream again. That one day, that could be them holding the trophy.

6. Hamilton and its power to inspire

While the Broadway musical premiered in 2015, it has quickly caught on as a national phenomenon. And it caught the Tonys on fire as well, getting nominated for sixteen and won eleven. Personally, I haven’t been obsessed with it, but looking through the lyrics of the songs and listening to “Cabinet Battle #1” several times, I could understand why it became special. I honestly hope for the day I could watch it, and to see more diverse casts in all shows as well.

7. The History of Japan

Also known as Bill Wurtz’s guide to 40,000 years of Japanese history crammed into nine minutes. It’s beautiful and funny and charming and awesome. And a good way to learn your history while not having it so dry. If you haven’t watched it, now may be a good time.

8. The iPhone 7

For some, it recognizes our eternal need for a headphone jack. For others, it recognizes the relief of not having wires on their earphones. And for people not like me, it makes them all relieved they don’t have a Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

9. Humorous Commentators and Late Night Skits

I remember when I watched John Oliver’s discussion of Donald Trump on a clip from “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”. I found it online, but it was humorous and informative all at once. Along with many more commentators, this was a shift from us “listening to politicians and laughing at comedians” to vice versa, which seems bad, until you could see some truth in those words.And those Saturday Night Live cold opens featuring Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump and Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton were classic; though I know some people will point out many more commentaries about the election and more.But that last one before the election, where Baldwin and McKinnon break character and run around New York City? Classic and beautiful and heartwarming.

10. Millenials (That's Us!)

Even though our favorite stars have died, it doesn’t mean there can’t be any more. We have so much at our disposal: technology to write stories and make videos and share with audiences and take commentary and ignore haters peeping out from the cracks.

Not only for entertainment, but also for social activism. The past year also had further emergence of police brutality against black people; with every new post and share, we also recognize this, along with further instances of how this is not a post-racial society yet.

Overall, 2016 may be a bad year, but as we consider the next seven weeks and into 2017, the future, and some of the past, might be a bit brighter. But it’s up to use to make those decisions everyday to wake up and make every year a year to smile about.

Cover Image Credit: Kiplinger

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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5 Thoughts You've Probably Had About The Government Shutdown If You, Like Cardi B, Are Paying Attention

I'm not sure if Trump thinks he's playing a real-life game of "The Sims," but I can assure you that a wall will not keep out those that are truly determined to get in.

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2019 — what a time to be alive, am I right? Normally I would use that phrase sarcastically, but each day I am more and more confused, transfixed, and curious (with just a dash of anticipation) about our current state as a society and the direction we're going. Even though most of the time the world seems like sh*t, you've got to admit that out of all the times in history, the current one we're in has a lot of cool perks. I mean, 70 years ago, who would've guessed that there'd be computers and a world wide web filled with endless information and apps that allow 125 million people to see cute pictures of Kim Kardashian's baby. And compared to life in the 1600s, an airplane seems just as extraordinary as the second coming of Jesus.

We're making a lot of wonderful and exciting progress, like our advancements in medicine, but for some reason, we've hit an impasse in terms of social improvement. Not even three years ago would I have guessed that the U.S. would elect an unqualified, most likely racist, reality TV star as president, but alas, here we are, which brings me to his latest antics.

The government shutdown.

Despite how bleak the future seems, a little part of me is just a tad grateful that I'm alive to see this all go down. Like everyone else, however, I've had quite a few thoughts about it all over the past few weeks...

1. So we're screwed, right?

We briefly had a government shutdown in 2013, but for some reason, I have absolutely no recollection of it (my 14-year-old self was probably too preoccupied with who was posted on my high school's Instagram "thot page." Spoiler alert: I was), so this is like my first experience dealing with one. There have been more than a dozen in U.S. history, but the current shutdown is the longest out of the list. My first thought when hearing about the news was "what the hell does THIS mean?" I immediately jumped to the conclusion that we were in a total state of anarchy, but of course, that isn't even partially true. According to The Balance, a government shutdown is "when non-essential discretionary federal programs close." The shutdown doesn't affect state social services, like the Department of Public Safety, and thankfully for us broke college students, funding for financial aid was approved last September, meaning there's no current effect on student financial aid programs.

However, federal services and agencies like the IRS (don't get too excited... you still have to pay taxes), Department of Labor, Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Institute of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration are completely shut down while the budget process is in limbo. With no current end in sight, this is bound to get very bad, very soon.

Already, hundreds of thousands of government employees have been sent home without pay and will continue to not be paid as long as the shutdown is in effect. People living in low-income housing may be evicted as HUD freezes funds for programs. Without funding, all of these services very well may close. Not only that, but the shut down is costing us money: approximately $1.2 billion every week. I wouldn't normally be worried, but Trump is the exact type of immature and petty to where he'll keep this going until he gets his way (or he's impeached, whichever comes first). His attitude firmly suggests that he's not backing down, and if services do close, there will be terrible effects on affected departments and citizen well-being.

Should we just drink the kool-aid now?

2. All of this over... a wall?

Out of all of the things that a president could request funding for, the one we currently have wants $5 billion for a damn steel wall? I'm not sure if he thinks he's playing a real-life game of The Sims, but I can assure you that real humans are much more crafty than we give each other credit for and that a wall will not keep out those that are truly determined to get in. Trump has said that the wall is the "only solution for a growing security and humanitarian crisis at the border," yet common sense and many politicians/organizations can tell you that that's complete and utter bullsh*t. Not only that, but Trump's whole presidency has revolved around quelling illegal immigration, but no one has stopped to ask why he's only focusing on the border.

How would a wall decrease the number of people who overstay their visas? How would it decrease the number of illegal immigrants who aren't even crossing the border?!

While I am not well-versed in how much of a threat illegal immigration presents to the U.S. people and government, I still am convinced that there are way more important issues that the president should be concerned with. F*** global warming and renewable energy, let's build a wall, right?!?

Trump's obsession with his wall is a pathetic attempt to flex his self-professed prowess and a way to appease his hate-filled fanatics who only voted for him because he promised he could get it done.

What happened to Mexico paying for it? Oh right, that was just more bullsh*t.

3. People actually donated to this sh*t?

I just... People's stupidity and callousness never cease to amaze me. Before GoFundMe rightfully shut this fundraiser down, over 345,000 people actually donated $20 million dollars for a (wait for it) steel wall. Why is this the thing that people feel their money is worthy of being spent on? Imagine if we all banded together to raise $20 million dollars to help end homelessness or food insecurity. Or better yet, pay the federal employees who are getting screwed over by this whole ordeal.

4. How do Trump supporters feel about all of this?

I know that die-hard fans can take a lot of sh"t from their idols, but I think that after a while it's only natural for them to get fed up. Out of the 62 million people who voted for Trump, there's probably a good portion of them who are significantly affected by the shutdown. The ones who are government employees are feeling the brunt of it now, but if this continues on for months or even years like Trump is threatening, then we're all going to feel it and I can't think of any good excuses that someone could come up with in order to justify such a foolish and reckless decision made by the president. To a federally-employed Trump supporter, I can't imagine how it feels to go 26 days without a paycheck because the president you voted for is desperately trying to propose funding for a wall that you want to be built. It's got to be a catch-22, but hell, I feel like almost all Trump supporters are delusional anyway, so they're probably thinking they're undergoing some grand act of martyrdom.

5. Even Cardi B is worried... Now you know we're screwed.

Cardi B took to Instagram recently to post a video of her addressing her worries about the government shutdown. While not eloquently put, the rap princess is really only just voicing the thoughts and opinions of a lot of us out here. If Cardi B is taking the time out of her day to stop popping off at her haters and fantasizing about Offset's peen, then you know that this issue is a pretty big deal. The self-proclaimed gang member and boss bit** has admitted that she's scared. I think that warrants us to all be.

Well, there you have it, folks. Five of my most pressing thoughts about the government shutdown. As it continues, I'm sure they'll be thousands more that pop into all of our heads. But hey, let's look on the bright side -- we've made history; now's the only time we can say the government has been shut down all year.

Hopefully, we won't be able to say it for much longer.

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