Somehow, we’ve made it. 2020, the year that has best been summarized by the dumpster fire Christmas channel, is coming to a close. This year threw curveballs our way that many of us have never lived through before, and I’m not just talking about COVID. Not only were we thrown into a global pandemic, but our world was plagued with other sicknesses too like forest fires, floods, and violence.
These challenges undoubtedly brought out the worst in us; mental health issues have been worse due to stress and isolation, governments all over the globe failed to take appropriate action for their citizens, and large groups of people saw more value in protesting against masks than they did against police brutality. While these are easy to focus on, we are doing ourselves a disservice to only remember those characteristics of the year and ignore the good ones.
Yes, some governments did fail their citizens in terms of action, enforcement, and financial assistance, but everyday people took a “love thy neighbour” approach and offered community support to people that needed to isolate for protection and were unable to get essentials. Others got together and dropped off gift packages at doorsteps to spread some cheer and fun in an otherwise bleak situation. We (at least most of us) started wearing masks. These gestures all may seem small, but they speak to our capacity to care. The pandemic really brought out the best in some people and some governments, and that shouldn’t be dismissed because of the overwhelming amount of bad we’ve seen in the media.
I don’t want to point these kinds of things out just to make us feel better. I’ve recently heard a lot of sentiment around leaving 2020 behind and entering a completely different new year. While the new year is of course a time that encourages you to evaluate, reset, and change things, I think that some of us are kidding ourselves by acting like our problems are tethered to 2020 alone and will disappear as we enter 2021. There are areas once again in lockdown and surviving a second wave and although there has been ground-breaking progress with the initial vaccine release, it is still going to take time for proper distribution of it and for everything to die down and return to normal. I believe that realism is going to be our best tool going forward and by reflecting on all that we have seen this year, we can aim to carry the good parts, the compassion, forward with us.
If we forget about 2020, we lose more than just the things we failed in. We won’t remember all the good that was done, and we will miss the opportunity to evaluate where we failed and try to do better this coming year. Regardless of what you decide to focus on, I promise there is value in remembering this hell of a year and not just for your own sake, but for the sake of those that really fought to make a difference. So please, find your piece of 2020 to remember and carry forward with you into this year, and don’t just throw it all in the dumpster fire.