With each passing year many people take time to reflect and wonder about the major events of the year, those things that affected their lives and those things that changed their lives. With 2013 there came many revelations that were a surprising to some and business as usual to others. We highlighted the major events that shook up the status quo perspective.

1. Climate change is hurting us
While some people may decree that climate change, or global warming, is a farce, or they acknowledge that it’s happening but insist that jobs and deregulation take precedent over trying to reduce our detrimental impacts on the environment, the fact is, we are seeing what our carelessness and callousness toward the environment are getting us: unprecedented destruction due to severe storms. Remember the category 5 tornado that struck Oklahoma City in May, leaving 25 dead, 377 injured and an estimated $2 billion in damages. What about Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines causing at least $5.8 billion in damages, killing 6,000 people and affecting the lives of 11 million? We can continue to play the ignorance card until these environmental disasters hit our coast or perhaps, on the other hand, until we suffer from some severe drought that disables us all. Oh, wait. Ventura County and Southern California are already in the midst of a major drought.

2. Confirmed: The government is spying on us
Many Americans were already suspicious of the government and its overreach into our personal lives when former CIA employee Edward Snowden released thousands of top-secret documents in June to the Guardian in the U.K. that revealed the scope of the U.S. government spying on its own citizens. And with that, a line was drawn: On one side stand those who believe Snowden is a traitor for leaking sensitive classified information and risking our national security; on the other, those who believe Snowden to be a patriot for revealing to citizens the truth about the depth of government “overreach” via the National Security Administration. To this day, while the discussion remains black and white —  either you support heavy spying in the name of security or you want the government to get out of the personal lives of citizens for the sake of privacy — the jury is still out on which side is right.

3. National health care reform is still a mystery
While the most outlandish critics of President Barack Obama will never see any silver lining in the cloud when it comes to anything he does, the launch of the Affordable Care Act was a debacle, the website a mess. Though close to 1 million have signed up, it’s nowhere near the 40 million it was intended to reach and cover. The meaning of the word “affordable” varies depending on who one talks to about what the Affordable Care Act provides. In the end, however, Obama recently decided poor, practically useless plans were better than none or better than the ones being offered that the average Joe simply couldn’t afford. As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. As good as the intentions may have been, for the most part, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t met expectations and may never do so without some major overhaul.

4. America’s obsession with celebrity is out of control

Once upon a time, celebrity status was a result of hard work and talent. Many of these people were defined by their innate ability to entertain a crowd, be it through dance, comedy, drama, song, etc. We were wowed by their presence and dedication to the craft. Fast forward 60 years later and now apparently men who shoot ducks are of the same caliber as Dean Martin and Lucille Ball. And our obsession is taking over our lives, some people even threatening to kill others who come between them and their duck hunters. The insanity has reached an ultimate high to our detriment, dumbing down a nation that once believed celebrity meant more than just existence.

Watch for “What we have learned, pt. 2,” in next week’s edition.