When you’re living in the moment, a year tends to fly past in the blink of an eye. As the last days of December draw nearer we all tend to take a look over the preceding 12 months and reflect on just how much can happen within that space of time.
Some things changed for the better: the Leveson enquiry balanced protecting a free and independent investigative press against forcing journalists to reflect upon their unethical practice. Some things changed for the worse: tough austerity and civil unrest in Greece was a sad indictment of Europe struggling to cope with its finances. Some things didn’t change at all: the extraordinary Spanish football team again demonstrated their world dominance with victory at Euro 2012.
As is my nature, I want to focus on the highlights of the year, the uplifting stories that put a smile on my face, a spring in my step and a twist of inspiration in my gusto. Technically the highlight of the year for every one of us should be that the Mayan calendar proved to be the latest in a series of anti-climactic apocalypses. But seeing as I’d long since dismissed that as rather hokey doomsday nonsense, I’ve decided to focus my attentions elsewhere. Here are my highlights of 2012:
Obama wins a second term in office
Irrespective of anyone’s personal political affiliations, there is no doubting that the campaign between the Republicans and the Democrats hinged on two key events that received a buzz of global media attention: when Obama threw his support behind same-sex marriages on Twitter and when Todd Akin made his “legitimate rape” goof. Both comments had far-reaching political impacts, the former painting Obama as a modern man who respects civil liberties and the latter, which made the Republican Party seem medieval, uncompassionate and out of touch. Following the unrest in the state of the economy, Obama came into the election as the underdog but may well have sent secret thanks to Todd Akin for helping him secure another four years in the White House.
Scientific boffins discover the god particle
What we all now acknowledge is that the Higgs boson, or the god particle as many prefer to call it, has the potential to be one of, if not the, most significant scientific breakthroughs ever made. It still seems somewhat odd that the Higgs boson was ‘predicted’ some 50 years prior to it being officially discovered last year, thanks to that marvellous scientific monstrosity that sits under the Franco-Swiss border called the Large Hadron Collider.
It is still too early to say exactly what benefit this magical particle might have on life as we know it. What I do know is that I’ve got my fingers crossed hoping that in December 2013 I can be writing my highlights of the year blog entry with all sorts of weird and wonderful discoveries that have been made as a result of its unveiling.
Malala Yousafzai brings international focus to the most basic of human rights
On 9, October 2012 the eyes of the world fell on Pakistan amid reports that the Taliban had shot a 14-year old girl in the head and neck in an assassination attempt. The girl was Malala Yousafzai and her crime was that she was an education activist writing blogs on the BBC website demanding the right to attend school.
The action brought international condemnation towards the terrorist group along with an outpouring of anger and sympathy. It highlighted the merciless brutality of the Taliban regime, the use of violence against women and children in one of the world’s most troubled regions and the level of work needed to be done on the global stage to ensure the world’s population are entitled to even the most basic of human rights – the right to education, the right to a voice, the right to life.
Thankfully, Malala has recovered after extensive medical rehabilitation in Britain and her ordeal has already left a powerful legacy that we can only hope will continue to grow in scope and stature. Former British Prime Minister and current U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, launched a United Nations petition calling for all children across the world to be in school by the end of 2015. Angelina Jolie and Tina Brown created a campaign through the Women of The World Foundation to raise funds for the education of girl’s in Pakistan and Afghanistan. First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush, likened Malala to Anne Frank in an article published by the Washington Post.
No other individual on the face of the planet had a bigger impact on civil rights than the brave young girl from the town on Mingora. Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of this story is that, as the recent Delhi rape case proved, it takes horrific circumstances and tragedy to shock the world into effecting positive change. Both cases present lessons that we can all learn from through 2013.