By: Katie Quigley
2016, however you may feel about it, was truly a whirlwind. The most memorable moments were ones that the 2015 versions of ourselves would have laughed at: Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, and you can now officially locate the definition of the term “youtuber” within the Oxford Dictionary. We watched nineteen-year-old Simone Biles flip her way into American history books with her outstanding gymnastics performance at the Rio Olympics, right beside American swimming prodigy Michael Phelps, who welcomed 2016 as the year he won his twenty-eighth Olympic medal. Maddie Baillio quickly rose to her well-deserved fame this year, nailing her first professional role as Tracy Turnblad in NBC’s production of Hairspray Live! And yet, among the picture-perfect moments of 2016 resided some of the ugliest predicaments that the United States has faced in the last couple of years. For many reasons, feelings of anger, sadness, disparity, frustration, disappointment, hostility, and most prominently, hate, were commonly understood over the course of the year. Although we, as a society, will unfortunately never rid ourselves of these feelings for good, it is time to leave the stale, petty, and overstressed hatred at the threshold that separates this year from then.
The hate that is specific to 2016 can be separated into two conflicts: people against the year itself, and people against other people. 2016 was coined as “unlucky” because of the frequent heartache that was seemingly unstoppable. We mourned the losses of many influential public figures: David Bowie, Harper Lee, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Elie Wiesel, Arnold Palmer, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher. There were also many bizarre yet ironic tragedies, such as the gator attack against a two-year-old in Disney World, a place known for being the happiest on earth. In a way, it is as though instances like the gator attack are symbolic of how 2016 is viewed as a whole- an attack on innocence, and an attack on happiness.
It is much easier to move beyond hating a year than it is to move beyond hating other human beings. Yet to be mentioned, but still clearly a dark cloud that will always hover over the topic of “hatred in 2016”, the Presidential election, no matter who you supported, brought out the worst in people. My favorite address to the election was made by American talk show host Stephen Colbert, my favorite line being “So how did our politics get so poisonous? I think it’s because we overdosed, especially this year. We drank too much of the poison. You take a little bit of it so you can hate the other side and it tastes kind of good and you like how it feels and there’s a gentle high to the condemnation. And you know you’re right, right? You know you’re right.” Politics, more so than at any other point in American history, became a prominent part of people’s personal lives in 2016. Somehow, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were everywhere you turned. Friendships were broken, famiIies were estranged, and I would even find my CCD class of nine-year old-boys yelling at each other about political issues they didn’t even understand. People began to blame each other for the ways in which politics were affecting their personal lives. Soon, living life day to day seemed unsafe- not only because of the hostility caused by the election, but because of the mass violence that was happening on a regular basis. Within the first 164 days of 2016, the United States endured 136 mass shootings.
The music department-sponsored trip that music students have the opportunity to take each year, often referred to as “tour” at James Caldwell High School, is supposed to be a fun couple of days in a new place. Tour was established so that arts-interested students could learn more about their art, more about the world around them, and have fun with the people they make music with everyday. Unfortunately, my nervousness blurred my abilities to explore and have fun this past year; being in the nation’s capital during a time of such hostility made me feel unsafe. Every activity that I once did with ease now seemed like it needed to have a safety precaution. Living this way for a year was long enough for me to understand that I never want to live this way again.
2016 taught us that hate only breeds more hate, and that, although cliche, violence is not a solution. History repeats itself, but that is only if we allow it. 2017 should be a period of reflection and reparation, not regression. Like Stephen Colbert said, “Now please get out there and kiss a Democrat. Go hug a Republican. You survived. Good night, and God bless America.”