We’ve heard it many times before, 2016 has been a disaster of a year. Countless shootings in the U.S., terrorist attacks in Europe, Brexit, climate change, the checking out of Prince, George Michael, David Bowie, and dozens of other beloved artists, and, of course, the checking in of Donald Trump as the new president of the U.S. Basically, we can look back at 2016 and only hope to avoid anything about it in 2017.
However, sometimes we are quick to forget that despite these events, there have been many overlooked moments of empathy, love and humanity too. Upworthy rounded up these 23 incredible photos that prove 2016 wasn’t a complete train wreck, and we just had to share them as well.
#1. We celebrated love…
Ed and Betty Hartman renew their vows after 65 years of marriage Oct. 8 on Western Michigan University’s Heritage Hall Grand Lawn to break the Guinness World Record for most vow renewals in one place. The Hartmans met at Western Michigan — Ed graduated in 1949, and Betty in 1951. A record 1,201 couples renewed their wedding vows at the ceremony.
#2. …in every way possible.
Marjorie Enya (right) and rugby player Isadora Cerullo of Brazil kiss during their marriage proposal after the Women’s Gold Medal Rugby Sevens match between Australia and New Zealand at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games on Aug. 8.
#3. We celebrated life…
Yisrael Kristal in his Haifa, Israel, home on Jan. 21. Yisrael, a Holocaust survivor, may be the world’s oldest man at 112, Guinness World Records said, providing he can find the documents to prove it. His family says he was born in Poland on Sept. 15, 1903, three months before the Wright brothers took the first airplane flight.
#4. …and its small triumphs.
A refugee from Syria holds his daughter at a shelter for migrants and refugees run by the Berliner Stadtmission charity on Jan. 9 in Berlin. Fast Retailing Co., the parent company of Uniqlo, donated about 50,000 articles of clothing to help refugees in Germany stay warm through the winter. Germany took in about 1.1 million migrants and refugees in 2015 and expected about 300,000more in 2016.
#5. We mourned those we lost
Jiffy Lube employee Ralph Nieves shows support for the Orlando, Florida, community following the shootings at the Pulse nightclub on June 16. This small but significant gesture helped the Orlando area and the country to heal from one of the worst mass shootings in American history. It showed that with all our progress, we still have much to achieve for future generations.
#6. We tried to find ways to work through our differences…
In a year full of tension over civil rights, this brief moment of calm during a protest between police officers and protesters in the early hours of Sept. 21 in Charlotte, North Carolina, showed that our right to assemble is as important as ever. The protests began the night before after a police officer fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott near UNC Charlotte.
#7. …and take a moment to reflect on our losses.
The Brexit vote was one of the most nerve-wracking examples of democracy in 2016. This moment of protesters awaiting the results of the vote in London on June 24 shows how important reflection can be before our expectations are subverted.
#8. But we helped each other get back up again.
Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand helps fellow competitor Abbey D’Agostino of the United States after she suffered a cramp on Aug. 16 during a women’s 5,000-meter race at the Rio Olympics. This kind act proved that friendship and empathy are what the Olympics are really about.
#9. We stood strong together…
Four Palestinian friends who were injured during conflicts walk by the sea at Gaza’s small fishing harbor on Oct. 24. Fighting has left thousands of people with disabilities or missing limbs in this Palestinian enclave. The heart-wrenching scars of conflict are a reminder that war is still present in our world but that we can stand tall together in its face.
#10. …for our heritage and our future.
This powerful image of Kat Eng holding 2-year-old Wiconi Suta Win Hopkins while painting a banner at the Seven Councils Camp on Aug. 18 during protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline shows that our environment and our heritage still need to be fought for.
#11. We went on new adventures…
Photographer Aaron Sheldon was at the doctor’s office with his son when he stumbled onto the perfect metaphor for childhood. “[Harrison] was scared to sit on the exam table because it’s a little high up for a 3-year-old,” Aaron recalled. “So I’m talking with him about being brave, and what types of people are brave and have to sit on exam tables. And we’re talking about policemen and firemen and he said, ‘Hey, how about astronauts? Are they brave?'” When Harrison had to go back for another checkup a few months later, Aaron brought his camera. And a space suit.
#12. …even if they may seem a little silly.
Thomas Thwaites accepts the Ig Nobel prize in biology from economics Nobel laureate Eric Maskin at Harvard University on Sept. 22. Thwaites, of the United Kingdom, won for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move like a goat.
#13. We’ll get there any way we can…
Ivory McCloud maneuvers his horse, Diamond, down a street in Compton, California, on Aug. 7. Although best known as the birthplace of gangsta rap and the hometown of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, Compton has a long and vibrant equestrian history.
#14. …and cherish the moments we have together.
A family embraces at the U.S.-Mexico border fence during an “Opening the Door of Hope” event on April 30 in San Diego. Five families, with some members living in Mexico and others in the United States, were permitted to meet and embrace for three minutes each at a door in the fence, which the U.S. Border Patrol opened to celebrate Mexican Children’s Day. It was only the third time the fence, which separates San Diego from Tijuana, had been opened for families to briefly reunite. The event was planned by the immigrant advocacy group Border Angels.
#15. We vowed to always stand up for our rights…
Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa protests the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on political dissent by crossing his arms over his head at the finish line of the men’s marathon at the Rio Olympics on Aug. 21.
#16. …no matter what obstacles are in our way…
“My family and friends have continuously pushed me to face adversities and succeed despite them. I am not afraid of failure and push myself to try to be the best at everything,” Nagla Bedir, who is Muslim and works as a social studies teacher, told the Andalou Agency during an interview about hate speech and Islamophobia ahead of the U.S. presidential election on Oct. 29. These issues were major dividing lines during the election, and Bedir was one of many who spoke out about the real struggles they dealt with every day this year.
#17. …to put our best foot forward…
These models walking the runway during New York Fashion Week on Sept. 12 were the first to wear hijab at the event. This moment showcased the importance of respecting each others’ beliefs and traditions. The designer, Anniesa Hasibuan, received a standing ovation at the event for her stunning work.
#18. …soak in those triumphs…
Ibtihaj Muhammad of the United States celebrates during the women’s saber team semifinal against Russia on Aug. 13 at the Rio Olympics. She was the first American Olympic athlete to wear the hijab during competition, and despite being knocked out during the competition, her performance left a powerful mark.
#19. …but always be mindful of the progress that’s yet to be made.
Activists from Abaad (Dimensions), a resource center for gender equality, dress as brides and wear injury patches during a protest in Beirut on Dec. 6 against a law that shields rapists from prosecution on the condition that they marry their victim.
#20. We try to hang with our pals…
Jim Kowalczik plays with Jimbo, a 1,500-pound Kodiak bear, at the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, New York, on Sept. 7. Our complicated relationship with the natural world had many ups and downs this year. This quiet moment between two friends shows the importance of compassion between us and the animal world.
#21. …stretch our legs…
Maja, a 40-year-old elephant, checks out a bakery on July 1 in Berlin. Maja performs daily at Circus Busch, and circus workers take her on walks among the nearby apartment buildings to vacant lots, where she likes to eat the grass. City authorities sanction the outings and federal regulations reportedly encourage activities for elephants to stimulate the animals’ cognitive awareness.
#22. …and our arms too.
A Sumatran orangutan plays at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme’s rehabilitation center in Kuta Mbelin, North Sumatra, Indonesia on Nov. 11. The orangutans in Indonesia are on the verge of extinction as a result of deforestation and poaching.
#23. Together, we can hope for a better new year.
A woman adds a sticky note to the art piece “Subway Therapy” at the Union Square station in New York on Nov. 17. This powerful display of compassion and empathy helped a city to heal after a divisive presidential election. It offered New Yorkers a collective outlet to reflect and move forward together in the new year.