In the words of the cast of "Rent," how do you measure a year?

A better question would be: how do you measure 2018?

2018 saw massive headlining events of influences both positive and negative. It saw election outcomes and joy-inducing announcements. It saw blockbuster movies and chart-topping singles. It saw everyday miracles and diamonds in the rough.

But it also saw disease and suffering. It saw shootings and attacks. It saw fires and earthquakes, blizzards and hurricanes. It saw devastation and dread in the pits of people's hearts.

This juxtaposition of current events cannot be denied, and because of this, here are the top five news stories of 2018 whose effects will carry over into the new year.

1. The kids of Parkland and their revolutionary minds have brought gun control to a permanent topic on the national stage. 

March for our Lives

February 14th was a day that will live in infamy in modern American history. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left both its local community and the nation aghast at the horrors committed there in cold blood, rendering seventeen innocent lives lost. However, despite the tragedy, the surviving students vowed not to let their tragedy fade from the minds of the nation's leaders, they vowed for change and gun control and got to work to see their hopes come true.

In the months since the "March For Our Lives" movement saw an immense amount of support across the country and the world. There were walk-outs at schools across the country, protests, and calls for change. While gun control continues to be debated about, the students of Parkland - bolstered by students around the country - have made their voices heard. They have caused a sweep of change during this year's midterm elections, and their efforts will continue into 2019 and the future, their crusade stronger than ever.

2. The #MeToo movement gained immense momentum with the accusation and trials against numerous perpetrators of sexual assault, including Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. 

Bill Cosby

2018 was a year in which those underrepresented and those whose voices are sparsely heard, such as the young people in Parkland and the women of the #MeToo movement, became key players in the culmination of change. While the Me Too movement began over a decade ago in 2006, it gained immense traction and momentum in the past two years. It saw the downfall of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and comedian Bill Cosby, exemplifying the power of truth against those desperately trying to paint it as deceit. Bolstered by women's rights movements, the Me Too movement has become a force to be reckoned with in the faces of those who have wronged its participants, bringing about a new age of feminist empowerment and righteous change and awareness in cases of sexual assault.

3. Donald Trump's intolerant immigration policies tore both families apart at the border and the nation apart at the seams. 

Family Separation Protest

Before I begin this examination of one of the most heart-wrenching and significant stories of the year, I will start by saying that I do not believe our day and age to be "Trump's America." If anything, this is the America of revolutionaries and trailblazers, of women and students, of immigrants and of truth-seekers. That being said, the political climate Trump has generated with his hateful and unfounded rhetoric saw the rise of a new policy that tore the world apart. Migrant families were being separated at the border, and continue to be today, with their children held in literal cages at immigration facilities.

This injustice and absolute degradation of humanity continues to be representative of the hate-mongering that Donald Trump excels at, and while the immigration crisis persists on all borders of the nation, it is important to keep one thing in mind. The United States was founded by immigrants, albeit on stolen land. This is not a country of some indigenous race that Trump and his followers favor; it is a country of Native Americans and of those from around the world in pursuit of liberty and freedom, those two maxims our nation is supposed to endorse. With the help of immigrants, of women, of children, of those that understand, those two maxims will become exactly that as we move into the future.

4. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's bravery and intellect challenged the nomination of Brad Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Kavanaugh Hearing

In conjunction with my second point, the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brad Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford became national news, turning the spotlight away from the appointment itself and onto the crimes its nominee had committed. Ford, who had been assaulted by Kavanaugh when the two were in high school, demanded that her assailant not become a member of the highest court of the land, given his own evasion of the law and morality.

The hearings and trials, bolstered by the Me Too movement and slandered by Donald Trump and his followers, held the world's attention during their duration. While Kavanaugh ultimately did get appointed, Dr. Ford's efforts were not in vain. She is just one of the numerous women whose assailants walk free under the guise of innocence, many of whom achieve positions of power like Kavanaugh. However, her bravery has made her more just than justice and will continue to serve as an advocate for sexual assault devoted to seeing change.

5. The various reports on climate change sent the world reeling and looking to those in power for ways to save it. 

Polar Icecaps Melting

I'm going to be blunt here: the Earth is not ours to destroy, despite popular belief. While this is potentially the sole planet capable of sustaining life, that does not mean it always will be capable of doing so. In the past few centuries, there has been a stark increase in factors that are detrimental to the environment: global warming, deforestation, and pollution. Climate change is very real—it is not a partisan issue, or some lie constructed by the left to distract the right. It is a very real threat to the world and life as we know it, should it not be addressed in the very near future.

Environmentalists and scientists are continuing to educate the world on ways to reduce waste and do what they can to halt the change on a daily level, but without the endorsement of certain world leaders—cough, cough, Donald Trump, cough—there is only so much that can be done. As depicted by the various reports administered by the United Nations and other global organizations centered on climate change, the Earth's temperature is close to reaching a breaking point, above which could see the rise of sea levels and complete melting of the polar ice caps, more powerful storm systems the likes of which we have begun to see in recent years with Hurricanes Maria, Harvey, Irma, and Florence. The world is not ours to destroy, it's ours to protect.

2018 was a year of anomalies, but through all the strife and all the hardship, there is one thing that 2018 continued to enforce.

Hope. Hope for the future, for change, for progress. Hope in ourselves, in each other, in humanity. Hope, the advocate for liberty.

And when liberty has been taken hostage by those in power and those held in error, the children, the women, the immigrants, and the generation in favor of humanity will come to set her free.