It is exhausting being worried and stressed out about the state of the world all the time, isn’t it?

I have been consumed with news since the beginning of this year, even more so than usual. Between the teachers’ labour dispute in Nova Scotia and the inauguration of Donald Trump, things were getting out of control for a few weeks, news-watching-wise. I will neither confirm nor deny reports of an intervention at my house that involved no CNN for 24 hours and someone cheating by getting their fix on-line (allegedly).

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from 2017, it’s that there will always be news, and watching it until you’re insane won’t change it, or slow it down, or make it better in any way. So instead of concentrating on the details, I have shifted my focus (at least for this week) on the silver lining. It’s been a rough few months for everyone, but we are not without blessings, which I list here in point form.

There are unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement all over North America. Even people who have never cared about politics or social issues in their lifetimes, are paying attention and participating in the process. In the States, people finally understand branches of power, the composition of government, and the system of checks and balances. In Nova Scotia, people re-learned about the process of passing a bill, from introduction to Royal Assent. And all over North America, people know who their elected representatives are without having to look them up on-line, they know how and why to contact them and what to say, and they are engaged in all different areas of democracy. (That is very exciting for the nerds of the world, and essential for a successful society.)

Americans seem to finally understand that that Obamacare is the Affordable Care Act.

I bet Nova Scotia Legislature TV has never seen the kind of numbers it saw mid-February, and I’m almost willing to bet that’s the only time anyone has watched a live stream of this province’s House of Assembly in the middle of the night.

People are cognizant of the concept of “fake news” and that not every article you click on is a reliable news source. There is a new awareness of corporate media ownership and how that relates to reporting bias and misleading broadcast and printed information.

People, even those in denial, have learned that racism is not dead. The U.S. presidential campaign, the election, the fallout since, the travel ban – all of these things have forced the American public (and, in turn, the rest of the world) into a conversation about prejudice, privilege, inclusion, and tolerance. Travel ban protesters donated $24 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in just one weekend in January, and marginalized groups everywhere are experiencing a surge in non-marginalized allies. It’s a long road with miles to go, but it’s progress.

Saturday Night Live is finally funny again, if only in parts.

We all got to see people for what they are, thanks to Facebook. Whether it was the nice lady from work who you saw writing nasty, hateful rants about Syrian immigrants, or the guy on your Friend list who you haven’t seen since 1997 who chimed in with an eloquent comment about the value of the labour movement, people’s true colours have a way of coming out during times of discord, and that’s good information to have.

Thanks to lots of practice on-line, people seem to be getting better at spelling tricky words like “malignant narcissist” and “you’re”.

We are at the crux of a seismic, monumental overhaul of public education in Nova Scotia that will change the face of schools and the lives of everyone in this province for generations to come. Though the composition or timing of the changes can’t yet be predicted, the level of outrage among teachers, students, parents, and citizens at large can only result in significant changes in government, school policy, spending, curriculum, and attitude.

In that same vein, everyone has a new appreciation for volunteerism, its value and its sacrifice.

And finally, now more than ever, people have hope that anyone – literally anyone – can be President or Premier.