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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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?
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.