9 things all Americans can agree on in 2017.

Before 2017 follows too closely in the footsteps of 2016 as yet another year of divisiveness, filled with Twitter wars and men on TV yelling about "hateful this" and "PC culture that," let's take stock of some things we can all agree on.

An accurate visualization of America right now. Photo via iStock.

From the special-est snowflake liberals to the don't tread on me-est conservatives, these are a bunch of plain and simple agreements that most, if not all, Americans can come to. We're probably not going to hug and sing "Kumbaya" after this, but maybe we can tear down a little bit of that wall that's dividing us. (Then part of it can be a fence!) (See, we're already laughing together.)


Things like...

1. Freedom is good.

That's right: freedom. You love it, I love it. People have fought and died for it. Alexander Hamilton and Beyoncé have both written hip-hop songs about it.

Some people who love freedom.  Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images.

Freedom is the reason you can leave a nasty comment on this article (I can't wait, by the way) and it's the reason I walk past two mosques and a Catholic school every time I go to my local Jewish deli here in New York City (true story).

Freedom makes this country an eclectic and exciting place to live, and none of us want it to go anywhere.

2. "Batman v Superman" sucked, but the director's cut made it suck less.

Yeah, lets talk about that. "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" was a hot mess. The tone, the pacing, the story, it was all completely off. Lex Luther's plan made no sense, and he was acting all weird the whole time. Just terrible.

They all know it, too. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Bai Superteas.

Thing is, Zack Snyder's nearly three-hour director's cut was way better. Not "great," not even "good" really, but thoroughly watchable. It was, at the very least, an original take on the characters instead of a cookie-cutter action movie with no personality, right?

Boom, look at that. You. Me. Same page.

3. Going to the doctor shouldn't cost like a crap ton of money.

Hang on! No, this isn't me using a young, hip platform to shoehorn in an advertisement for the Affordable Care Act. (Who do you think I am, President Obama? Zing!) (See? We can do this.)

Photo by Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images.

I'm just saying: No one should have to go to the doctor and be horrified at the bill. Did you know that nearly half of American households are one emergency away from entering poverty? Imagine if you had to worry about your health while simultaneously worrying about being able to put food on the table. That's a position no one should have to be in.

Whatever becomes of health care in the future, let's agree to agree: No one wants to (or should) go into massive debt because of a health crisis.

4. Billy Joel.

Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images.

I mean, right? Come on. Piano Man? He's great.

5. We need more jobs.

Jobs are good! Unemployment is bad. More jobs means a stronger economy, more opportunity, and more money for you and yours. Who doesn't want that?

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

I'll go you one further! We need more American jobs. We need jobs to be created right here in the homeland, making American stuff and building American industries that we can pass down to future generations.

The fact that we've steadily added jobs over the last eight years is great, but it's not enough. Now, we may disagree on what those new jobs should be and how best to create them, but at our core we're all chanting the same mantra: Mo' jobs, fewer problems.

6. This is a weird picture.

Photo by Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images.

What are these people doing? Why does that one guy have an umbrella? Did they survive a pink kayak disaster or is this some kind of ritual sea-bath in Northern France? The world may never know, but you and I and the rest of America can rest assured that we agree — there are no two ways about it — this is a bizarre picture.

7. People should be able to afford their educations, regardless of income.

More people being able to pursue their education beyond high school is pretty much always a good idea. It helps us foster innovation and create those jobs and opportunities we were just agreeing on a few minutes ago.

Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images.

The massive student debt crisis is hurting all of us. Millions of young people are spending the best years of their lives buried under mountains of loan debt while trying and failing to get one of those jobs that there aren't enough of. Pursuing education should give people more opportunities, not hold them back, and, in turn, hold the whole country back.

That's just not cool.

8.  Brendan Fraser is the only actor who should star in "The Mummy."

Can't faze the Frase! Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

We're all thinking it. What's Tom Cruise doing in that new "Mummy" movie? Does the world need more Tom Cruise? Does Tom Cruise really need another franchise? Are movie-goers really that thirsty for more Tom-Cruise-runs-away-from-things summer blockbusters?

Get Fraser back in there! This is his fight.

And finally...

9. Too many toddlers are shooting people.

Yep, this is a thing that is happening.

In 2015, there were 58 shootings committed by toddlers. Which is too many by about 58. There were over 50 in 2016 as well. Here's a chart from the Washington Post with a terrifying title:

So yeah, we can probably agree that we should do something to keep guns out of toddlers' hands. I know this is a divisive issue. I don't expect us all to suddenly agree on the need for more gun control laws (although most people agree on that too) because we all saw what happened after Sandy Hook and after the Pulse shooting. (You know — nothing.) I'm not talking about taking anyone's guns away, either. I'm talking about agreeing that we should all practice enough personal gun safety to protect ourselves from toddlers with guns.

Many of the stories in that Washington Post report involve gun owners who weren't practicing proper gun safety protocol. If we can't agree on more gun control laws and regulations, I'm pretty sure we can all come together and agree that anyone who has a gun should be keeping it far away from where any kid could reach it.

Making 2017 a year with substantially less toddler-shootings shouldn't be too controversial, right?

Honestly, the list doesn't end there. It's on all of us to keep it going.

There's a lot more that we can agree on. Pie, Nutella, campfires, funny hats. The list of things that unite us has always been longer than the list of things that divide us. That's good to keep in mind.

So yes, we're probably going to keep yelling at each other in 2017. We're going to openly disagree, debate, stumble, and evolve, and we should be truly thankful to live in a place where we have the freedom to do so.

In a world of Twitter, talking heads, and fake news, it's too easy for us to lose our common ground and lose sight of our shared humanity. We forget that we all love this beautiful, messy country of ours and want it to be better, and that we want to make it better through hard work and good ideas*.

*If you consider "good ideas" ones that strip away the rights of already marginalized groups, please see above: "Freedom is good."

OK now. Back to it.

Most Shared

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture