In a year where most news have felt bleak and devastating, the positive news have felt far and few between. So a few of our writers on Utblick wanted to shine some light on the people who have managed to be bright despite the circumstances. We hope they can also bring some inspiration for the new year to you.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Through the tosses and turns of this election year, from certainty of another four years for Donald Trump, to maybe believing Bernie Sanders had a shot, to finding myself wishing embarrassingly much for Joe Biden’s victory, following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “the squad” – also known as Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib – is the one thing that has given me hope all the way through.
Seeing her propagate on social media that the real work begins after the election has been almost like a prayer at times. Along with the other progressives of the Squad she definitely raises hope that even social democratic policy has a chance in the US, as long as you have got your grassroots. We should have known it would take a sassy bartender from the Bronx to take on the old crowd in Washington.
– Beatrice Almhagen
Professor Dr. Christian Drosten
Professor Dr. Christian Drosten is one of the world’s leading coronavirus experts. During the past year, in a time of a global pandemic and widespread uncertainties, the german virologist has tirelessly and effectively presented complex scientific and epidemiological facts in an understandable way.
From the very beginning, Prof. Dr. Drosten has generously shared essential knowledge about COVID-19. The virologist is not afraid to admit the limits of his experience; instead, he points out that science also means constantly re-exploring these limits and revising certainties. Professional criticism and personal hostility have never stopped Prof. Dr. Drosten from analyzing and arguing at a high scientific level.
Professor Dr. Drosten manages to communicate the current situation of the virus in a transparent, clear, fact-based and captivating way. Within a very short amount of time, he convinced the general public in Germany to perceive science as a reliable guide for managing the crisis.
Science continues to play a crucial and incomparable role for the future of the human species. There is a great need for experts who can communicate science to the general public. Professor Dr. Drosten not only gives knowledge and understanding regarding COVID-19 but he also gives hope to what impact a good communication of science can have on politics and the society, even in times of a crisis.
– Celina Gleisner
Death. That is what has, more than anything else, characterized this year. From the victims of the coronavirus to at the hands of the Irani government executed journalist Ruhollah Zam to the victims of the Yemeni war. It has been around us, present, on a large but also personal scale, more than ever before.
Perhaps that is why Lousie Glück, poet of gloom and destructiveness, won the Nobel Prize this year. Her poetry, that would at any other given time seem appropriate only for the lonely griever, has provided us all a tool for our collective grief.
She certainly has not given us joy, very little this year has, but she has shown us the universality of death and of grief and that there is something beyond it: Hope.
– Felix Sjögren
Jameela Jamil, the founder of the I Weigh movement, is promoting the idea that people, especially women, should be weighed by their accomplishments rather than a number on their scales. Jamil’s movement aims to promote inclusivity, social justice and mental health.
The activist and actress has always been vocal about her opinions on, for example, toxic diet cultures and pseudo-feminist attitudes. Using the platform she built (not at least after landing one of the leading roles on The Good Place series) Jamil generously shares her energy and passion for inspiring others and for fighting everyday injustices.
In 2020 Jamil launched the I Weigh podcast that through profound and humoristic conversations, amplifies and empowers diverse voices in an accessible way. Jamil and the I Weigh movement are breaking down stereotypes, exploring different ways on how to practically and effectively make actual change both in local communities and globally.
After having been involved in several controversies, Jamil tirelessly continues her activism, celebrating progress and not perfection. Jameela Jamil gives hope through breaking down stereotypes and highlighting the importance of self-worth, love and values.
– Celina Gleisner
Dr Hannah Neumann
Dr. Hannah Neumann is a member of the European Parliament and the German Green Party. Her foreign policy focus includes the role of women in peace and conflict situations, arms exports, a feminist foreign policy, and human rights issues. In 2020, Hannah Neumann has introduced several initiatives. Two of them are a proposal for a feminist European foreign and security policy and a new mechanism for a more transparent assessment of the EU’s arms exports, which is why I nominated her as one of the hopes of the year.
Dr. Neumann’s report, which calls for a feminist foreign and security policy for the EU and its member states, was adopted by the European Parliament in October 2020.The report includes, among other things, a target of 50 percent women in leadership positions in EU foreign policy bodies and a call for 85 percent of development aid to be allocated to projects that include the promotion of gender equality.
Her report for a more transparent assessment of EU arms exports, including an online database to track these exports, was adopted by the European Parliament in September 2020. Her goal is to fight for a greater say of the European Parliament on arms exports to ensure parliamentary scrutiny on this issue.
– Miriam Laux
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last”, Kamala Harris stands for a new, strong, diverse generation in politics. The Vice President-Elect has burst through many barriers: In 2003, she won her first race for San Francisco District Attorney, being the first Black woman in the Californian office. In 2010, Harris was elected as the first Black woman as California attorney general, and during 2016, she was only the second Black woman ever to be elected as an US senator. Now, Kamala Harris is the first female, first Black and the first South Asian vice president-elect.
Kamala Harris is undoubtedly more than a barrier-breaker. Harris’ presence brings so much with it – so much to those, who can see themself in her, even if they don’t always share her political standpoints. The reason why she gives hope for many is not because of her policies and politics; Harris represents a step towards more representation and more equality. Like Kamala Harris said: “Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities, and to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not, simply because they’ve never seen it before.”
– Celina Gleisner