Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

It’s been a long year

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian
Caroline O’Connor/Collegian

As this semester comes to a close, and as finals begin disrupting people’s sleeping schedules and causing a torrential downpour of anxiety, I have been thinking about the year of 2016 and what we have learned from it.

I began writing for The Massachusetts Daily Collegian right around the time 2016 began, starting off my time as a columnist with an optimistic article about going into the new year and how people never follow through with New Year’s resolutions. Why don’t people make efforts to make positive changes in their lives all year? Why do we have to start diets on Mondays and decide to be better people with the arrival of a new year?

But I digress. This year was a tough time for the world. Where do I even begin?

The mosquito-borne Zika virus epidemic spread to the Americas, the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Nov. 30, 2016, the “Zika virus disease and Zika virus congenital infection are nationally notifiable conditions.”

If you have been on the internet at all this year, then it is likely that you have come across the pictures of babies born to mothers infected with the virus, many of them suffering from neurological issues due to under-development of the brain.

The CDC have put a cautionary note on their website in which they recommend that pregnant women take special precautions when travelling to certain regions that have been affected by the virus.

2016 was also a year plagued with terrorist attacks that were either conducted or inspired by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. CNN mapped out 143 ISIS attacks that have occurred since 2014 and that have killed 2,043 people.

On March 22, there were suicide attacks on the Brussels airport and subway that killed 32 people and injured hundreds. On Jun. 28, three suspected ISIS bombers targeted the international terminal of Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, with 44 people dying and several more injured. On Jul. 14, 84 people were killed as they celebrated on Bastille Day in Nice, France, ploughed over by a lorry driven by a man identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel. As I scrolled through the CNN list, I recoiled in horror at all the lives lost around the world at the hands of terrorists.

Great Britain decided to leave Europe, which it so eloquently called its “Brexit.” Americans chose Donald Trump as the future leader of our nation, to the disbelief of the world. I couldn’t even tell you how many angry Facebook posts and Twitter tirades I read. I watched as thousands of hateful comments added to all the election noise. Protests erupted across the country. Trump protesters guffawed and rejoiced while die-hard Clinton fans just shook their heads and bowed them low.

Despite all of this, despite the negativity and the hatred that has been spewing out in unbearable amounts (not to mention the alarming celebrity deaths – we miss you, Bowie), I think that this year only displayed how resilient the world can be when facing these worrying times.

President-elect Trump was elected and protests erupted across the United States in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, to name just a few cities where protests took place. People marched through the streets, demanding to have their voices heard. I watched as a large crowd of University of Massachusetts students walked across the green near the library, screaming obscenities about Trump, and I felt a little bit of hope inside me. People are still fighting, despite all the misery and pain in the world.

The protestors of Standing Rock stood their ground, fighting to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built and to protect indigenous tribes from an environmental disaster.

I think the world may be drowning, but it is still struggling to pull itself out of the water. Cheers to 2017—may the odds be ever in our favor.

Ruwan Teodros is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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