Like every other year, 2015 has seen crushing heartbreaks and uplifting triumphs.
The United States remained stagnant on certain hot issues while making progress on others. Certain figures in both politics and Hollywood became national sensations for right and wrong reasons. Simply put, this year placed us all on a roller coaster ride that only a few years this century have done.
On June 26, the Supreme Court came to a historic decision when they officially legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states in the U.S. The decision, determined by a five-to-four vote, marked a vital step forward in the equal rights movement for same-sex couples.
While many politicians and citizens openly accepted the decision, others could not tolerate putting their beliefs aside for the sake of moving forward. Whether it was Kentucky clerk Kim Davis refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples or Utah judge Scott Johansen ordering a same-sex couple to give up their adopted child (although that decision was later revoked), we saw throughout the year that same-sex couples still have a long way to go before they can achieve the majority of respect the law has “given” them.
In very recent and tragic news, the night of Nov. 13 saw a series of orchestrated terror attacks occur in Paris, France, by the northern suburb, Saint-Denis. The attack, which was orchestrated by the terrorist group ISIS, included bombings in the streets and a hostage situation at the Bataclan theatre, where the terrorists gunned down innocent victims before facing off against police forces. The attacks resulted in the deaths of 130 people and 368 others were injured.
This was the single deadliest attack on any nation in the European Union since the Madrid Train Bombings of 2004 as well as the worst attack on France since World War II.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, the world united with numerous vigils being held, global monuments being lit in the colors of the French flag and people using social media to give their condolences and show their support for the people of France during this terrible time.
Another major global story stemmed from the European Union, spending most of their year dealing with a refugee crisis in which hundreds of thousands of migrants have come to their countries through Southeast Europe or the Mediterranean Sea to apply for asylum. The migrants, who hail from areas like the Middle East, Africa, South-Central Asia and the Western Balkans, have come to European nations in the hopes of escaping both civil wars and poverty throughout their homelands.
Back in September, President Obama decreed that the United States would also take in an approximately 10,000 Syrian refugees.
His announcement has become a very heated topic over the past few weeks in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris. In the U.S., 26 governors have stated the opposition of bringing Syrian immigrants into their country, citing national security and the recent tragedy of Paris as the primary reasons to refuse the immigrants. Other states have claimed to take in the refugees on the condition that extra security precautions be utilized, which is a far more reasonable idea than simply denying help to people in need due to paranoia.
Security is necessary, but citing an act of hatred as a reason to spread more hatred is simply a wrong-headed decision.
As 2015 comes to a close, many have been excited to put this past year behind them and move on to the next. Yet, I cannot help but wonder why you would wait until next year for things to get better in your life and in the world.
George Harrison, the late lead guitarist of The Beatles, once talked about what time truly is: “It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
If this year has shown us anything, it is that no time is better than now to try and make a difference in your own life and in those of others. The past year saw the nation make small but definite progress because someone had the temerity to say that now was the time for change to be made, not next week, next month or next year.
Every day, we have the choice to do something great and make the world a better place. We can always learn from the mistakes of yesterday in order to make today a better day.
So as you look ahead to this New Year’s Eve, do not try to start planning a New Year’s Resolution for 2016. Just begin making those changes now.