7 lessons for 2017, so we don't make the same big mistakes we made in 2016.

Everything was supposed to get better after 2016.

2017, or so we thought. Photo by Alice Popkorn/Flickr.

When the history books are written, we believed this year would stand apart as uniquely awful. Annus horribilis. The year from hell. Bad things happened to good people. Great people passed away. Hurricanes raged. Fires burned. "Independence Day: Resurgence" failed to capture the magic of the original.


But we hoped, prayed, and frankly, assumed, that on December 31, the sky would open up, angelic choirs would sing, and we would be ushered naked and weeping into the 2017 utopia of our dreams.

Yet, in 2016's final, cruelest twist: It's pretty clear that ain't gonna happen now. At least for a lot of us.

True, Donald Trump's supporters are cracking beers, cueing up old DVR'ed episodes of "Celebrity Apprentice," and settling in for four years of the greatering again of America.

But those people whose lives and values came under threat in the election — Muslims, women, immigrants, people of color, among others — are preparing for a much harder road ahead.

It's easy to look back on all this and feel hopeless and helpless. For so many people around the world, the relief expected at the end of the year won't deliver itself. The thing is, we're not hopeless and helpless. We never were, and we aren't now. The idea that 2016 was simply fated to be horrendous is a myth — one that's more than a little self-serving. And if you look between the cracks, it wasn't all bad.

Indeed, while many of us spent 2016 sitting on our respective couches tweeting about this supposedly inevitably terrible, no good, death trap of a year, others were out working to change the specific, real-life things they thought were bad. And they did! Sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse, but they stopped complaining about how horrible 2016 was, packed their bags, got in the streets, and showed up.

The real lesson of 2016? We can't count on the stuff we don't like to just change on its own.

2016 is almost wrapped, and while it might be too late for a do-over, it's not too late to learn, memorize, and internalize these seven lessons to make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes in 2017.

1. We need to show up and vote.

Yep. This is happening. Photo by Jim Watson/Getty Images.

Say what you want about Donald Trump (I certainly have) — but his victory in November's election shocked the world — including, seemingly, many members of his own staff. After stumbling through three debates, launching feuds with private citizens, and nearly imploding over a leaked "Access Hollywood" tape, his campaign was disorganized, rudderless, and trailing in the polls in nearly every key state.

How did he pull it off? Trump's supporters wanted change, and they showed up and voted in the places where it counted (for what it's worth, nearly 3 million more Hillary Clinton voters showed up nationwide — but had the unfortunate luck to live in the wrong states).

Amid Trump's stunning upset, however, progressives managed to let loose a small ray of hope. In North Carolina, voters showed up and voted to reject a vicious anti-LGBTQ law by firing Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed it.

North Carolina Governor-elect Roy Cooper. Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images.

The groundwork for McCrory's defeat was laid way back in 2013, before the law even passed, by William Barber's Moral Mondays movement, which spent countless hours mobilizing citizens across class, gender, and racial lines to demand economic and social justice. Those citizens marched, organized, showed up, and — three years later, amid the horror of 2016 — won.

2. We need to show up in person.  

Protesters at Standing Rock. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

This lesson wasn't lost on the thousands of people who showed up in person at an isolated Indian reservation in the Dakotas to fight the construction of an oil pipeline on sovereign land and, after months of dedicated protest, won a major concession from the U.S. government.

Nor was it lost on thousands of women in Iceland, who showed up in person to walk off the job in protest of unequal pay and got the world's attention.

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images.

Nor was it lost on the hundreds of Americans who showed up in person to rally behind their fellow citizens as hate incidents rose around the country.

A man stood outside a mosque in Dallas holding a sign saying, "You Belong." After an incident where a stranger threatened to light a female student's hijab on fire, students at the University of Michigan showed up to shield Muslim classmates who were praying. Students at the University of Kansas offered to walk their classmates of color to class. In Allen, Texas, a stranger left signs of support outside a local mosque. Churches across America are gearing up to protect immigrant families from abuse.

3. We need to not show up when showing up would mean compromising our values.

Spike Lee. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Back in January, director Spike Lee and actor Jada Pinkett Smith announced they would be boycotting the Oscars after no actors of color were nominated in acting categories for the second straight year. Thousands of Twitter users showed up in support with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

In response, the academy ... actually made changes. The organization announced it would expand its board and review members' voting qualifications every 10 years, with the goal of expanding the number of women members and members of color by 2020.

4. We need to show up and do the things we really don't want to do that make us uncomfortable or even embarrassed — for the greater good.

Do you think Barack Obama wanted to make nice, shake hands, and have his picture taken with Donald Trump?

We're all so incredibly happy. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

After the guy questioned Obama's citizenship, savaged his character, and called his 2012 election victory a lie? President Obama could have told Trump to screw off until January — and he would have been more than justified. But he sucked it up and has been giving the guy free presidenting lessons ever since. Not because he wants to — because God knows he almost definitely doesn't — but because he knows America needs its president to have at least a ballpark understanding of what they're doing. That's showing up.

Do you think Mitt Romney wanted to beg Donald Trump — a man he accused of "trickle-down racism" — for a position in his cabinet?

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Do you think Romney wanted to suck up to Trump for a week and take back all the things he said that he almost surely still believes are true? Do you think he wanted to become a demeaning meme? Of course not. But he did it anyway because he's a dedicated public servant who knows his experience at the State Department would be a critical asset to an administration staffed with policy neophytes with wacky ideas. He probably knew that, in all likelihood, Trump wouldn't nominate him. He probably figured there was a chance the whole charade was concocted to humiliate him.

But he showed up and embarrassed himself on the ludicrously off chance Trump might really give him the job, putting an actual decent, thoughtful, qualified person in charge of one of the most important levers of U.S. foreign policy.

That's really showing up.  

5. We need to show up to experiences that burst our filter bubbles.

Photo by Steve Pope.

Showing up at "Hamilton," probably wasn't what you'd expect from Vice President-elect Mike Pence. As a congressman and governor, Pence was notorious for advancing anti-LGBTQ legislation and likely expected that sitting down to watch a musical about the contributions of immigrants to America's founding on Broadway, a capital of LGBTQ culture, would invite controversy. Sure enough, Pence was greeted by a chorus of boos when he appeared in the theater. And after the curtain call, actor Brandon Victor Dixon addressed the vice president-elect, respectfully, but uncompromisingly, from the stage:

"We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights," Dixon said. "We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us."

But Pence listened and heard him out. And in a post-performance interview on Fox News, Pence said he "wasn't offended by what was said" and described the pre-show booing as "what freedom sounds like."

The musical probably didn't change Pence's mind on much of anything. And the cast's speech hasn't seemed to shift the vice president-elect's rhetoric on immigration, criminal justice reform, or LGBTQ rights. But Pence stepped out of his comfort zone and listened. He deserves at least some credit for that.  

6. And we need to show up to help other people to burst their filter bubbles.

Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks at the CMAs. Photo by Nick Diamond/Getty Images.

Despite being the uncontested queen of everyone and everything, Beyoncé's performance at November's Country Music Awards became a lightning rod for fans of the genre. Criticisms ran the gamut from political (she's too liberal!) to aesthetic (she's insufficiently country!) to straight-up racist (black people don't belong in country music).

Here's the thing: Beyoncé can perform anywhere she wants. She's arguably the most famous human on the planet. She didn't need to show up to do a free show for people who mostly want her to go away. But she did it anyway. She did it knowing that the audience wouldn't necessarily be friendly to her. True to form, many weren't.

But many others listened, liked what they heard, and had their minds and tastes expanded. More importantly, their idea of what a country singer can look and sound like was forever changed.

It was a brave move for Beyoncé (and for the Dixie Chicks, who backed up Queen Bey, having been shunned by country audiences for their opposition to the Iraq War over a decade ago). Beyoncé leveraged her massive global fame to send a powerful message for inclusion that resonated with millions of viewers.

7. We need to show up now, when it counts, before it's too late.

Do not deny Prince-from-Beyond! Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images.

We lost a lot of great people in 2016. There will never be another Prince, or David Bowie, or Alan Rickman, or Leonard Cohen, or Gwen Ifill, or John Glenn. But in a way, their passings aren't just tragedies — taken together, they're a call to arms.

Life is fleeting. If we want to make the world a better place, we have to get on it ASAP and show up now — not tomorrow, not a week from now, not in April when things calm down or start to feel normal. We all have limited time on Earth, and it matters, now more than ever, what we do with it.

2016 was a bad year for too many people around the world: We can't just wait, commiserate, post rueful memes, and hope that the next year will be better. We all have to go out and make it so.

2017 is coming, whether we want it to or not. Will it be better?

That's up to us.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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