I think for most of us, 2020 felt like it lasted a decade. But it was still 366 days of a year that, if not for the pandemic and all its ripple effects, it would have been like any other year. Sure, there were natural disasters and murder hornets, but natural disasters happen every year. That’s not to minimize them, but it is the truth. And I doubt we would have made such a big deal about murder hornets if we weren’t looking for more bad news.
The pandemic is a big deal. There’s the economic impact, of course, which is substantial, and we will be digging out of it for a while. And then there’s the realization that many of our neighbors were not the decent human beings we thought they were, as the pandemic revealed that they equate an inconvenience to help others as “fascism” or “infringement on freedom.”
So, don’t get me wrong, 2020 was bad. It was very bad. And the divisions and anger it showed us will have repercussions lasting long into the future.
But there are things that happen in every year that still happened this year, and we made them a bigger deal because of 2020.
This happens a lot. We give a year a personality and then we fit everything into a list to make the year seem worse. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of memes with the list of terrible things that happened in 2020, and we’ll forget that many of those things happened in 2019, 2018, or even 2000, when the world was supposed to end the LAST time.
My new idea for a movie is “2040: The Year It Actually Ends. Probably.”
My concern is that the lessons we could learn from 2020 will be forgotten as soon as it takes us to remember to write “2021” on things.
For me, that’ll be March. It is every year.
We’ll probably focus on the bad stuff and call it bad stuff, but not try to come up with ways of improving on the disaster of a year we just had. Our pandemic response was embarrassing. Our hospitals got overwhelmed. Our economy was discovered to have a lot of weaknesses. While other governments quickly gave money to their people and fought to curb the virus, ours watched Rome burn. We also learned that when we panic, we immediately stock up on toilet paper. I’m not sure what lesson we’re supposed to learn from that.
I have hope for 2021. (Confession: I actually typed 2020 there. I figured it would take till March, but I didn’t expect to mess it up three paragraphs later!) It’s not related to who’s president or anything like that. I always have hope for the beginning of a new year. But the problems that we’ve seen – the human problems – won’t go away just because we got a new calendar. And since our vaccination efforts are falling behind, it will take longer for us to get enough of the population vaccinated to bring the numbers down significantly.
But I know we’ll get there. And I know we’ll work on the problems that are holding us back as a country.
And I also know that I’ll be writing the wrong year for a while, so get ready for some scribbles and really fat number ones.
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