Photo courtesy of am New York
Yorba Linda High School

2017: progression or ignorance?

2017, a year diversified by an emphatically different political, social and cultural landscape both domestically and internationally. In the span of 12 months, the United States introduced a new president to office, sexual assault allegations unequivocally aggrandized the social and economic sphere of the entertainment industry and we experienced one of the most populous protests in recorded history. But why does this year digress so much from a past that has consistently reconditioned itself in light of human opposition?

In year’s past we had the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, Stonewall, the abortion rights movements, and most recently the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016; but why does this year differ from the ones before it? The truth is not specifically in the actual societal shift, but at the expedited rate and the unparalleled circumstances that legitimately shaped the volume of this pronounced period of social antithesis.

That being said, in the past, and even today, a virtue that has ostracized its way into our communities is the stigmatization of conflict; more specifically disgracing the concept of civil contraposition. As humans, we habitually correlate disagreement with pessimistic and cynical occurrences within our own lives, and we enforce that upon those around us.

With this inherent refusal to evaluate the reasoning behind social opposition, we exclusively neglect the possibility of its progressivism, ultimately leading to an aggregate emotional and distorted mental stagnance. And while it is completely natural to feel insecure with the confrontation of a widely popularized viewpoint, given conflict is an uncomfortable subject, it is undeniably essential to the furtherance and development of a positively diversified social climate.

As for the actual year, the defining moments that ensued can most realistically be related to one elemental and indispensably controversial event. This would be the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, resulting in Donald Trump being inaugurated in January of last year. It became an infamous event in history that served as the metaphoric “last straw” for the majority of individuals in the United States.

Racial minorities, women, immigrants and people of the LGBTQ+ community felt threatened by the explicit changes that were promised to come within the U.S. government, potentially limiting their freedoms within this country. Consequently, the National Women’s March arose in which 3.26-5.24 million people protested against a sociopolitical system that, under new administration, would heighten the desecration of rights for women, racial minorities and the queer population.

Movements caused by this uncommonly tense political climate continued to spur throughout the entirety of the year, such as the protest against Donald Trump’s egregious “Muslim Ban” and the dispute over the stripping of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that had protected thousands of immigrant families.

“The introduction of this dramatically diversified administration serves as a direct correlation to the uprise in social turmoil,” said Courtney Poon (11). “If you consider that the nation’s largest protest corresponded with the inauguration of the latest president, then it most definitely serves as an indicator of a societal imbalance and the necessity to reconsider the bigotry that has begun to divide the United States.”

In addition to the political remonstrance of 2017, the entertainment industry took a plunder in the depths of human exploitation. In the fall of last year, Hollywood producers, actors, directors and others, such as Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer, came under fire when hundreds of victims came forward accusing those within this industry of sexual assault.

This particular motion became known as the “Me Too” movement, in which the people affected by this cultural indecency banded together to promote awareness and prevention of rape culture and the disbandment of an oppressive patriarchy. It transpired into a national grievance and gestured the refusal to accept the forced appropriation of another’s body, conclusively prompting TIME magazine to name their person of the year as “The Silence Breakers” in support of these gallant individuals.

Whether you agree or disagree with the political, social and economic changes that occurred within the past 365 days, it is important to remember that the potentiality of a positively revolutionized social state is through the questioning our own ideals. If we challenge the morality of years past and strive for a passionance against a continuation of ignorance, then the possibility of progression is undoubtedly attainable.

We must have conflict in order to develop as a whole; the principle of the matter is that protest is defined as discord, but ironically it is the only way to maintain a sense of unity within our communities.

As we auspiciously progress into 2018, 2020, 2042 and years beyond, we shouldn’t discard the magnanimity of social inquisition, but recognize it as what we need to change within ourselves.

Conformity is never key, and the only way to achieve cognizance of our faults and progress past them is to effectively reject the assimilation to outdated ideals and diversify ourselves individually, and as a unified whole.