2017: a year in review

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This year, we saw a transfer of power, devastating natural disasters, a horrific mass shooting, and a variety of other major events. I’ve compiled a few of my opinions on the events that had the greatest impact on my life, as well as the lives of fellow Americans.

President Trump’s Inauguration

2017 kicked off with President Donald Trump being sworn into office on Jan 20. He emphasized the concept of the power returning to the citizens of America numerous times throughout his speech. It boils down to personal opinion of whether or not that has been accomplished, or if this concept is even positive. Controversy began early in Trump’s presidency as debates over crowd size flooded Twitter a day following the ceremony. While interesting (and slightly humorous) to examine at the time, this was not even close to being the biggest event of the year.

The Women’s March

On Jan 21, hundreds of feminists took to the streets to advocate for equal rights in response to the election and inauguration of Trump. While the main event was in Washington D.C., over 400 marches in cities across the country were reported and accounted for. This event was eye-opening for me (a more in-depth analysis of this event can be found here), and gave me hope for the upcoming months. Seeing millions unite as one to protest one of the longest-standing issues in our country filled me with pride, and I will never cease to be grateful that I was alive to observe such a thing.

Tomahawk Missiles

I remember sitting terrified and confused in my hotel room on April 6 watching the news of the launch of Tomahawk missiles in Syria unfold. I spent the next few hours delving into various articles and gaining more knowledge as to why this decision was made. In response to a chemical attack initiated by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the Trump administration launched 59 Tomahawk missiles towards the base from which the chemical attack was carried out. Not only did this spike tensions between the U.S. and Syria, but with Russia as well. Russia believed this violated international law, thus significantly damaging relations between the U.S. and Russia. I remember learning more and more about this, scared out of my wits that these tensions would lead to war. I thought that launching the missiles was a major step towards conflict– something I personally think we should avoid at all costs. I remained confused and scared until the news died down a few days later. Large-scale weapons are not toys and need to be used with great caution (another firm belief of mine).

Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement

For those who are unaware, the Paris Climate Agreement is an agreement adopted in 2015 dealing with combating greenhouse gas emissions and keeping the global temperature increase well below two degrees Celsius. In this agreement, each country plans and frequently reports what efforts they will put forth to minimize global warming. However, on June 1, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. I try to keep an open mind when discussing politics, but to me, this was- without question- a mistake. Climate change has been scientifically proven to be occurring; it’s not a debate on whether or not it’s real– it’s a debate on whether or not we need to do something to combat it. Not doing anything, however, only causes harm. Greenhouse gas emissions remain high, the ozone layer continues to deteriorate, and species continue to go extinct. Climate change is not a joke. It’s real, it’s happening, and it’s scary.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria

This past fall, three major hurricanes hit seemingly simultaneously. Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane, devastated Houston, Texas, causing nearly 200 billion dollars in damage. This event is now the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. It just so happens that the cause of this massive storm was an increase in temperature of the Gulf of Mexico, which resulted due to climate change itself. Hurricanes Irma and Maria were both Category 5 hurricanes at their peak, eventually reaching Category 4. Both caused billions upon billions of dollars of damage to the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, respectively. While devastating, it was uplifting to see people act as one to raise money and awareness for the damages done by these disasters.

Las Vegas

The biggest mass shooting in American history took place on Oct 1 of this year. Fifty-eight people were killed by gunman Steve Paddock, which opened the door to many discussions regarding gun control. I am a firm believer in increasing the restraints on buying a gun– this was not the first mass shooting of this year, and we outdid ourselves by taking the top spot for deadliest shooting after a mere year following the previous largest shooting. Restraining guns does not mean no guns at all; it simply means taking precautions to ensure they are in safe hands. My heart goes out to the families of the victims of this horrific event.

These are merely 6 major events that took place this year. There have been many more tragedies, many more miracles, and many more moments of hope. But, there is not enough time to analyze each and every one of them. The most important thing to consider when transitioning into 2018 is remaining educated and passionate about current events and uniting as a whole community to advocate for what is right.

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