Dec 31

Was 2016 (Really) “The Worst Year Ever?”

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


This is not a blog about politics.  It is not about socio/economic affairs.  It is not a debate.  This blog is about resiliency, reality, and mindset.


Let me ask you this:  What does your FB feed look like right now?

Mine is (has been for the past two weeks) filled with statements and memes about how horrible 2016 has been. That’s not how I usually handle things.  To each his/her own – there’s no judgement even in this, but

I prefer to review what good came of the past year (for me personally, professionally, and our world).  I prefer to make a plan for moving forward rather than staying mired in the past.  Acknowledge that stuff.  Feel it.  Work through it.  Don’t get stuck there.


I’ve been pushed to my limit for the “2016 was the worst year ever!” stuff so I spent a little time doing research this morning.

Turns out that 2016 may not have been “the worst year ever!”  It may not even have been the worst year in recent history.  Some really scary, bad stuff happened!  Absolutely.  I am not minimizing that in any way.  Before we lose all perspective, though, let’s do a quick history review of our recent past.  Not the past 50 years, just the 15 before this one.  Not all of the events, just a few of the quickest-to-grab highlights.  These are in no particular order and I’m making no judgment as to whether these are more/less important than other things that have happened.


Do you remember:


– The US 2000 Presidential Election? 

So contentious and tight that it went all the way to the Supreme Court! The term “hanging chads” became a national punchline as Florida seemed to have difficulty counting hand-punched ballots. This was the first time in our history that the SCOTUS had to settle a presidential election.


– Terrorist attacks of 2001?

2,996 people died immediately, 6,000 more were wounded. That doesn’t include residual deaths from breathing noxious chemicals of burning materials.

– The wars in Iraq/Afghanistan? (2002/2003 – today)

Official numbers for civilian deaths Iraq over a 13-year period stand between 168,905 and 188,152.  Total violent deaths including combatants 251,000.  We’re still fighting.  68 died last week.  149,000 people died/were killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan over this period.


– The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake?

The 3rd largest quake ever recorded on a seismograph.  280,000 people died within a few hours, in more than 10 countries hit by surging waves; 200,000 in Sumatra alone.


– Hurricane Katrina in 2005?

1,836 people killed.  Rescue efforts led to a national conversation about race, poverty, and the efficacy of bureaucratic aid. The storm also destroyed $108 billion worth of property, making it the costliest hurricane in American history.


– Virginia Tech Shooting, 2007?

Second-deadliest school massacre in American history.  32 people killed and 23 others wounded.


– The Market Meltdown of 2008?

This wasn’t about physical casualty but it put a few things in perspective for us. We were going backwards!  The median U.S. household income in 2000 was $52,500. In 2008, it was $50,303. In 2000, 11.3% of Americans were living below the poverty line. By 2008, that figure was 13.2%.  I’m well aware that we need to be careful reporting such statistics – they have been changed several times, and are frequently massaged by whomever is doing the reporting.  No question, though that our financial institutions, auto manufacturers and housing industries all but failed.  We had government bailouts.


– Back to Back Earthquakes in Haiti in 2010?

The first earthquake measured 7.0.  A second, measuring 6.1 occurred a week later.  At least (reported numbers vary) 46,000 people died although the death toll may have been as high as 110,000.

– Hurricane Sandy, 2012?

87 fatalities occurred in the US. At least 126 additional fatalities occurred in the Caribbean and Bahamas.

This was also the year of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings where we saw 6 year old children and their teachers/caretakers killed.  I remember exactly where I was and how hopeless I felt when I heard this news.


– Boko Haram abduction in 2014?

276 Nigerian girls were abducted from a boarding school in the northeastern town of Chibok.  Here’s something you might not know.  Despite a “very aggressive” #bringbackourgirls Twitter campaign, as of May 2016, 218 of these girls are still in captivity.  The world has simply forgotten about them and moved on. It’s what we do.


Let’s not forget the Ferguson riots that spread over a four-month period of time.


There were 355 tornadoes throughout the Midwest and Southeastern US.

The worst being in Joplin, MO and Tuscaloosa, AL.  606 people died.


– Paris Attacks of 2015?

130 people killed and almost 500 injured.


“Peaceful protestors” (title provided by news agencies, not myself) lit 144 vehicles and 15 structures on fire in Baltimore, MD. 2,000 National Guard activated, 500 additional law enforcement officers from Maryland and as many as 5,000 from around the mid-Atlantic region responded.


Frightening stuff happens in our world.  Catastrophe’s – both created by man and nature.  We should care about this stuff.  We should not give up.  We should not tear ourselves apart, and/or burn our cities down in an outcry that “this is the worst…. ever.”


Guess what else….

People got married (both of my kids and numerous friends, within this 15 year period:  my daughter, in 2016).
– People were born (every one of my 5 grandchildren:  one grandson in 2016).
– Friends came through illnesses and injury (Rebeca and Linda in 2016)..
– Friends & family worked through significant life events (almost every one I know in 2016).
– People got jobs and promotions.  My company grew; both in size and number of customers – in 2016.
– Kids started, and finished, school.

A lot of good stuff happened every single year. Significant stuff.


I am very much looking forward to 2017.


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