2018 was a wild ride, but it wasn’t all bad. Amid the chaos and natural disasters and news cycle insanity, there were some bright spots. Here are a bunch of them:
Congress looks a lot more like America now
The midterm elections in the U.S. ushered in a new era where the government truly represents “We the people.” Not only are there a record number of women and women of color in the House of Representatives, but also the youngest woman ever elected, first Muslim congresswomen, openly gay members, Native American women, and more.
Larry Nasser and Bill Cosby Convicted
Bill Cosby’s Wikipedia entry has been updated to include the fact that the comedian is now a convicted sex offender. The former actor and comedian was convicted of assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004 and now faces three to 10 years in jail. It’s a small taste of justice for the more than 60 women who have accused Cosby with similar stories since Constand first came forward.
Similarly, former U.S. Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting hundreds of girls over the course of decades. It took years of women speaking up, but justice was finally served.
This study showing that drinking is better than exercise
Sure, exercise is good, but in the long-haul according to this study, drinking a glass of wine or a beer is better. In the study, those who drank one or two beers or glasses of wine every day had a lower risk of a premature death than those who exercised 15-45 minutes daily. That’s definitely something to feel good about.
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A disabled Golden Retriever who overcame all odds to give hope to people with disabilities everywhere. She is Chi Chi. @chichirescuedog is an inspiration to many, after surviving a harrowing rescue from South Korea which lead to a quadruple amputation of her legs. The @americanhumane #HeroDogAwards Therapy Dog category, brought to you by @chickensouppets, celebrates the healing power of therapy dogs through their visits to hospitals, veterans centers, schools and beyond. Chi Chi's incredible work as a therapy dog has touched countless lives, and lead to her title win as the 2018 #AmericanHeroDog! www.herodogawards.org/dog/chi-chi/
The 2018 American Humane Hero Dog
Chi Chi had her legs bound and was left for dead in a garbage bag in a dumpster in South Korea, but that was only the beginning of her story. The golden retriever was rescued and brought to America, where she learned to trust people. Sadly, her legs had to be amputated, but she was outfitted with prosthetics, and now works as the world’s most inspiring therapy dog–and the winner of the American Humane Hero Dog Award.
Christine Blasey Ford spoke up
Christine Blasey Ford bravely brought sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She unflinchingly relived her trauma and weathered presidential attacks to speak her truth in front of a hostile Senate committee in pursuit of nothing but preserving the sanctity of the U.S. Supreme Court. While Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed for the court, her bravery inspired women everywhere, even if Ford had to move four times due to threats after her testimony.
Ford’s only public appearance since the Congressional committee was to present Sports Illustrated‘s Inspiration of the Year Award to Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.
That time Hillary Clinton roasted James Comey
Just days before the 2016 presidential election, former FBI Director James Comey announced he was opening an investigation into Clinton’s private email account usage during her time as Secretary of State. That investigation went nowhere, so when it turned out he had used private email, she roasted him.
But my emails. https://t.co/G7TIWDEG0p
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 14, 2018
Ariana Grande released “thank u, next”
A break-up anthem and video so good that when it was released, it reportedly caused a 57% drop in productivity. The fact that we’re not all corporate drones chained to our desks is reason enough for optimism. Let’s watch it again now!
This banker who saved a music school
Chad Cooper left a fast-track career at Deutsche Bank to save the struggling Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Here’s his story.
Twitter users school trolls
Twitter can feel like a cesspool, but it can also make the political cycle bearable. Like The Onion writer who trolled Michael Cohen all day or this tweet that swapped Vice President Mike Pence into Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s propping him up in the Oval Office like he was still sentient. Or the now-deleted tweet posted by Eddie Scarry trying to shame (or something?) newly elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for wearing her “best sale-rack clothes“–and got ratio’d into oblivion by outraged Twitter users turning his supposed insult into a meme.
This man passed along wisdom to the next generation
A 95-year old man likes to stand outside a California middle school and yell his thoughts to the students–and in an odd twist, they actually listen to him. According to the Washington Post, Wally Richardson shares his “Wallyisms” with the students at the California, spreading messages of joy, positivity, and self-esteem with the younger generation.
While banning plastic straws may not be entirely effective, and the bans can make life more challenging for people living with disabilities, it is incredible that companies, states, and individuals are taking proactive steps to try and save the planet. Now 127 countries are considering banning single-use plastic.
Sharks for Trump
After Stormy Daniels announced that Donald Trump hates sharks, donations started to flood into shark conservation organizations. Marketwach reports that both the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society experienced a surge of first-time donors who were giving charitably in Trump’s name. And someone adopted a 13-foot-long great white shark at Princeton’s Shark Research Institute in Trump’s name.
The World Cup
Nothing brings the world together like yelling at their TV screens that the ref is blind.
The Muppets helping refugee children
Sesame Workshop just got another $100 million to make the lives of refugee children a little less miserable. Thanks to a huge gift from the Lego Foundation, the children’s education organization’s plans to create a support system for kids escaping conflict and brighten their day.
This TV station that bought $1 million in medical debt
Back in 2016, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver bought $15 million in medical debt and forgave it all. It was an idea that kept on giving. This year, Seattle news channel KIRO 7 decided to help their community. They spent $12,000 to buy $1,000,000 in medical debt, and forgave it all. The station has since set up a website for people who want to contribute to more medical debt forgiveness.
All the organizations that help in the wake of disasters
Whether it was wildfires, hurricanes (more hurricanes), volcanic eruptions, or migrant children there are always people and organizations willing to jump in and help, whether through on-the-ground-efforts or by donating money to help the victims.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married
A biracial American joined the British Royal Family.
White Castle for vegans
White Castle decided to go green, offering plant-based Impossible Burgers at all 377 of their outlets, making it easier for drunk vegans to scarf down sliders.
This dog reunion
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the Collazo family had no choice but to leave Puerto Rico, but there was a problem: They couldn’t bring their dog Melao with them. Melao was more than a pet to the family, though, as he had a special bond with their son, Jonathan, who has Down syndrome. It took nine months, but the family didn’t give up hope of being reunited with their pup. In May of this year, The Sato Project, through their No Dog Left Behind project, worked with Wings of Rescue to get Melao back where he belongs.
The birth of Gritty
The Philadelphia Flyers wanted a mascot–and they got a doozy. In September, the hockey team unveiled Gritty, a furry orange monster with googly eyes, a dad bod, no apparent ice skating experience, and no fear of a fight with beloved icons. Philadelphia hated him and then loved him all over the course of 24 hours, taking the internet along for the ride. And if Gritty can make it, anyone can.
People opened their hearts–and wallets
People really hate the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy that is taking children from their parents at the border. The images and audio of confused, scared children crying out for their parents from cages tugged at the heartstrings of anyone who has a heart. To help fight the horrifying policy, people opened their wallets to one organization in particular–the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), which is the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas. People were so upset about the policy that one Facebook fundraiser alone earned over $20 million to support the group’s work to stop the policy.
It became a little harder for Alex Jones to spread his conspiracy theories and harass the parents of Sandy Hook victims when Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more kicked him off their sites for violating their community standards. Then, Facebook banned all things Proud Boys-related in October and the group’s founder Gavin McInnes (who claims to have quit the group) was banned from YouTube. It’s one way to help curb the spread of hate and it just might work. A study published by researchers at Georgia Tech last year looked at the effects of banning Reddit’s most toxic subreddits, and as TechCrunch reports, it resulted in less hate speech elsewhere on the site, particularly among people who were active on those subreddits.