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The Maastricht Diplomat

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The Little Victories

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

2016 has not been a good year. We have had terror attacks across the world, the continuing conflict in Syria, and the refugee crisis that it has caused. The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a shock vote. Countless iconic celebrities and public figures have died: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Prince, that guy who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. And to put the cherry on top of the cake: the “land of the free and the home of the brave” has elected a moronic orange gas bag as their “Supreme Leader.” When you turn on the TV, you are bombarded with so much hate, violence and sadness, it’s difficult not to lose hope and feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel.However, I’m hear to tell you to keep the faith! Despite all the bullshit that dominates our our screens and social media newsfeeds, there are many good things that have actually happened this year, albeit a somewhat smaller amount than the saddening headlines.

I understand that it will be difficult to convince you that there is any good to celebrate, probably more difficult that having enough content to fill this article with, but stay with me guys.

The Ice Bucket Challenge

Remember when everyone spent one summer dumping buckets of icy water over themselves, turns out it did actually make a difference! Despite the criticism the viral craze was subject to, with many accusing it of being nothing more than a chance for people to follow a trend and be fashionable, the world-wide challenge raised over 100 million dollars that went into funding research for new treatments to help fight Motor Neuron Disease (or ALS).

Motor Neuron Disease is a condition that effects the brain and causes the neurons that control muscle function slowly start to die and there is currently no cure. Motor Neuron Disease is life-changing and has devastating effects for the sufferers and their families. The new research funded by the Ice Bucket Challenge has found a new gene that is associated with the disease, which is helping researchers understand the causes of the disease. These developments open the door to ground breaking new treatments, that could lead to, although this is the very early stages, a cure to ALS.

This is an awesome development and shows how powerful these viral charity campaigns can be, despite the negative criticism they gather. The simple act of dumping ice over your head and getting your friends to film it has actually helped us get closer to finding a cure for such a horrific disease.


Another exciting news story you probably didn’t hear about was about the tigers. For the first time in over a century, the tiger population in the wild increased, with 3,890 tigers compared from 3,200 back in 2010!

Tigers have been rapidly going extinct due to deforestation and loss of habitat. They are also hunted by poachers for their decorative fur, and for other parts of their body that have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. The combination of these factors has seen the population of tiger’s decline to under 5,000 in the wild.

Back in 2010, the governments of India, Russia, Nepal and other effected countries, having been working with the WWF and have pledged to double the population of wild tigers by 2022. They put in place new tracking systems of tiger populations and more dedication to wildlife conservation of tiger habitats, as well as cracking down on poachers and enforcing strong laws making any part of the tiger illegal to sell.

Although the WWF’s work is far from done, this is a monumental moment in wildlife conservation progress. The tiger is one of the most endangered species in the world and one that is loved by so many. It is great news to hear that we are not losing these amazing creatures any time soon!

Solar Impulse 2

Back in July, a new historical leap forward in the future of air travel took place. The first every round the world flight by a plane that relies only on solar power completed its journey in Abu Dhabi! Solar Impulse 2, developed by the Swiss company of the same name, started its journey back in March last year, and has shed light on the importance of developing new technology that is renewable rather than reliant on fossil fuels.

As we have seen, highlighted especially in Leo Dicaprio’s documentary “Before the Flood”, the world has a long way to go before our power becomes “green” enough to reverse the damage the earth has faced. As depressing as that documentary was, hope is not lost, especially if you are European. With all the other crappy stuff happening in Europe, it’s nice to see that we are actually doing something good for a change, as we lead the way of renewable energy. As much as 42% of Denmark’s total energy consumption in 2015 came from wind power! And at the rate it’s going, Sweden will most likely become the first country to be fully powered by renewable energy!

These new developments in renewable energy can help us feel optimistic for the future of the earth. Even when it feels like nothing is changing, and the Paris Climate Summit was all for nothing (well, according to Leo), we must all play our part in the fight for the earth, even if that means just recycling all your old notes and bottles and stuff, because there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Leicester City

Although it’s only a game, and as someone who doesn’t really give a crap about football, this was something that truly warmed my heart. Leicester City, a team relatively under the radar in English football and close to relegation, beat 5,000 to 1 odds to win the Premier League for their first ever top-level championship title!

To put that into perspective for you, the odds of Hugh Hefner admitting that he is a virgin and that Simon Cowell would become the next Prime Minister of the UK were more likely at 1000 to 1 and 500 to 1. No matter how much you really care about the Premier League, everyone loves a good underdog story and it just goes to show that you set your own limits; if you really try you can achieve anything.

To conclude this rather short list, the point I’m trying to make is that no matter how bad things get, you can always find the good in life. Life just sucks sometimes, especially in 2016, but to simply give up on humanity would be a disservice to all the wonderful people in the world that are doing something good, no matter how small. All the people who have volunteered to help the refugees in any way they can, the people who work in their communities bringing people together, the people working tirelessly trying to find the new cures for diseases, the people who spend their days holding “free hugs” signs. These are the people that prove that while humanity isn’t perfect, it’s still something to be proud of. We can’t let hate-mongering politicians and slimy media create a world of fear and despair, we have to come together and prove them wrong. One person may not be able to change the world, but they can change something, no matter how small, to make a positive difference.

There are so many great things to celebrate this year, and that’s what we should focus on. So let us carry this hope for humanity into the new year and make 2017 the best year yet. Well…maybe not the best…but to be honest anything could be better than this year…I hope I haven’t jinxed that…

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