The Year That Was 2017 [Opinion]

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In many respects, 2017 was a year that can’t enter the dustbin of history quickly enough. It was a year grotesquely-loaded with ample trials and tribulations, particularly within the public sphere. A year composed of angst and despondency, the substance of which we’d rather not revisit in 2018.

I strongly suspect that for many of us, the recent year’s eclipse was a particularly welcomed sight. We eagerly await a new year in which the stressors of yesterday are rendered insignificant. We hope to see the new year bring at least a modicum of long-sought relief. We hope, at a minimum, to capture a glimpse of a world at peace.

We clamor for a return to civility, to mornings in which a simple task such as reading the newspaper doesn’t send a cold shiver up one’s spine. We long for a respite from the horror of war, the brutality of terrorism, and the ugliness of unrestrained hatred.

We’ve seen media outlets dedicate an inordinate, but necessary, amount of time to chronicling the outlandish, outrageous, and even unacceptable, public events which may very well shape our society in profound ways. We’ve examined the all too familiar stench of tribalism, documented the appearance of ethical decay, and marked our delirium-inducing descent into the craven realm of intolerance.

The eruption of violence and angst in Charlottesville.
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For many, the passing of each news cycle resembled the carnage-laden remnants of a battlefield. We collectively sat trapped within the confines of inescapable spaces marked by hazard and filled with the outright devastation of what we hold most dear, our very principles. So often, the self-inflicted perpetuation of social strife caused us to ferociously turn on one another, abruptly losing sight of all that unites us.

As the year ground to a close, two tragedies unequivocally proved that there’s still good in this world. In the small Minnesota Iron Range town of Hibbing, retired firefighter Steven Gillitzer, sacrificed himself in an attempt to rescue his wife and grandsons from a fire in their home, as the Pioneer Press reported. Half a nation away in the Bronx, CNN reported that Army National Guard member Emmanuel Mensah lost his life trying to evacuate the residents of an engulfed high-rise.

American flag flying outside the New York Stock Exchange.
Featured image credit: Spencer PlattGetty Images

Yet even in the darkness of inexplicable despair, there’s cause for hope. These brave souls stand not only as heroes but as testaments to the fact that we’re not yet lost.