Let’s be honest with ourselves. Unless you were overcome with a powerful urge to “make America great again,” 2016 was a drag.
In many ways, it was just like any other year, the ups and downs, hits and misses. This year, however, all the swirling unpleasantness in an increasingly tense world came in all-caps with a big orange exclamation point, eclipsing any minor triumph.
So as 2016 slithers towards the merciful finish, let’s take an obligatory look back at the year that was.
It’s instinctive, it seems, when facing the end of an objectively bogus year, to operate on a plane of denial. It’s understandable; nobody wants to pad their life’s score with negative years. Surely it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.
That being said, there actually were some great things that happened this year.
Massasoit is celebrating 50 years.
Massasoit has been soldiering on, celebrating its 50th anniversary. On September 14th students and faculty stood in formation, representing a giant “50.” Celebrations continued with the 50th Anniversary Gala, and more events still to come all the way through next semester.
Massachusetts Legalized Recreational Marijuana.
On November 8th, one of the several minor victories was the passing of ballot initiative, Question 4. The motion passed by a narrow margin, and was put into effect on December 15th. MA joins states like Colorado, Washington, and Alaska in a growing trend nationally.
What else do we have?
On the 4th of July, NASA’s Juno spacecraft began orbiting Jupiter.
Juno completed its first of 36 planned orbit around the planet, on August 27th. Getting as close as 2,500 miles from the clouds of Jupiter, Juno has already began sending images back to Earth. Here are some of the early images, including stunning pictures of Jupiter’s north pole.
Also, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature.
Dylan, awarded for “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” was the first American to win the prize since Toni Morrison did in 1993. For weeks, Dylan did not respond to the news of the award, later acknowledging it. Citing previous commitments, the singer/songwriter did not attend the presentation
A prepared speech was read at the ceremony by the American ambassador to Sweden. Patti Smith also performed a song. Dylan’s behavior in regards to the award, has been regarded as everything from “rude and arrogant,” to “subversively humble.”
On December 13th, outgoing President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act.
The $1.8 billion dollar bill aims at tackling the opioid epidemic, increasing care and research for mental health and cancer research.
Part of the bill was renamed the “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot,” after Vice President Joe Biden’s son. Beau Biden died earlier last year from a brain tumor, at the age of 46.
Also, in another rare instance of coming together…
China and the US both ratified their participation in the Paris Agreement to fight climate change.
Late last year 195 countries met and signed on to the agreement. Now that the US and China, the countries with the largest about of global warming emissions, have ratified, more than 60% of global emissions are under the agreement to cut carbon.
So, like all years, gleams of light will break through. However, we should have seem this brutal year coming. 2016’s canary in the coal mine, may well have been right at the beginning.
The legendary musician passed at the age of 69, after battling cancer. The prolific songwriter and inspirational performer, also acted in a slew of movies including Labyrinth, The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Prestige.
There was no shortage of high profile deaths in 2016.
Loss was one of the themes of this unforgiving year. As controversial and beloved figures were shuffling off this mortal coil, it was the anger percolating throughout the world that defined the tumultuous 2016.
President Michel Temer, an unpopular figure who is under investigation himself took power. Temer “had never considered” attending the Chapecoense memorial service, for a team who’s majority died in a tragic plane crash in December. Many suggested he was fearing boos, similar to what he received at the Rio Olympics.
Over in Europe, England shocked the world with its vote to leave the European Union.
“Brexit” as it was dubbed, stunned, leading to the resignation of David Cameron, British Prime Minister. Coming off a campaign built on scapegoating immigrants and stoking fears, it created great uncertainty.
After the vote, “what is ‘Brexit’” and “what is the EU,” began trending on google across the UK.
At home tensions were rising as well.
More cases of unarmed black men being shot and killed by police arose.
Philando Castile’s girlfriend, who was in the car at the time of the shooting, said that Castile told the officer he had a firearm. Diamond Reynolds, said in the video of the aftermath, that Castile had a permit for the firearm and was reaching for his wallet when the officer shot and killed him.
Protests broke out across the country in response to the fatal shootings. The majority of protests were peaceful, but one in Dallas left 5 police officers dead after it was marred by a lone sniper, who fired on officers. Military veteran and gunman Micah Johnson, was killed after a standoff with police.
Frustration was breaking out throughout the US, with the emergence of hate groups, fiery campaign rhetoric, and increased division.
The rising anger provided fertile ground for Donald Trump’s stunning upset in the November election.
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore was one of the first to predict a Trump win and pointed towards a disconnect and feeling of rejection in the white working class. This was just one of the aspects of the upset being examined as a nation copes with the surprising results.
“If only” this and “if only” that, came flying out of Democratic camps looking for answers. Left leaning liberals blamed corporate democrats. Hillary Clinton supporters looked to FBI director James Comey, and Russian meddling.
Bernie Sanders emerged from relative national obscurity to make a significant run at the nomination. Sanders’ populist message resonated with millions. Wiki-leaks emails revealed a conscious effort from within the Democratic National Committee to undermine the VT senator’s bid.
Regardless, it was clear that the Hillary Clinton campaign failed despite winning the popular vote.
Clinton outspent Trump significantly, over the campaign. It was also widely viewed the she won all three debates, by varying margins. Democrats will long be sorting through the rubble of the 2016 campaign that lost with a popular vote advantage of nearly three million.
If 2016 was an overall recession of morale, it was thrown into a complete depression on November 8th. Inarguably the biggest event of the year began to unfold, as businessman turned reality TV star, Donald Trump, secured the presidency of the United States.
Trump won despite all the predictions and polls. He won regardless of the numerous seemingly disqualifying moments, including the now infamous Access Hollywood video. Trump secured the electoral college victory, even though he was recorded saying that he was famous enough to grab women by the genitals, without consent.
The shocking development seemed to compound a year packed with seemingly endless tragedy.
The ongoing civil war in Syria raged on all year, and was compounded by unconnected violence internationally.
A human face was put to the atrocity after a video of a dust and blood-covered child sitting in shock emerged. It brought revived attention from a nation becoming increasingly disconnected from the overseas stalemate.
Turmoil throughout the world continued as airport attacks in Istanbul and Brussels killed dozens. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte launched his slaughter of drug addicts and dealers. And here at home 49 were killed at the Orlando Nightclub shooting.
All this, and to top it off, we reached the grim 400ppm milestone for carbon in the atmosphere.
According to scientists, that means we will never, in our lifetimes, get below 400ppm. All this, while President Elect Trump begins to nominate climate change deniers to his cabinet.
Each positive moment was seemingly canceled-out in this 366-day bummer around the sun. When the great score keeper looks back on 2016, it will be with no hesitation that it is thrown in to the negative column.
We went up against the year, and lost. Now all we can do is accept defeat, it’s over.
So, grab your bourbon blasted eggnog, Manischewitz wine, or whatever you wish, and let’s wrap this thing up.
The Chicago Cubs may have won the World Series this year, ending their 108-year championship drought, but for the rest of us, well…there’s always next year.