As 2020 ends let us take stock of where we are and what is coming. Be forewarned what follows below is brutal realism and not a fluff piece about 2021 being better. However, read on, and there will be a ray of hope at the end. Like I mentioned in my previous posts, courage is staring truth in the face, clenching your teeth and kicking it in the balls with all your strength.
I am writing from Canadian perspective, but most countries are in similar straits. 2020 has been terrible for many people. While some (mostly youth) have cheered the closure of society to validate their lifestyles, most people have accepted it begrudgingly as a necessity in face of the deadly virus or societal pressure. (That the virus proved to be much less deadly then predicted has not registered in the mass psyche yet). Separation from family, friends, colleagues, work environment, social and cultural events has had heavy negative effect on majority of population with mental illness, violent crime, domestic violence, drug abuse all rising faster than the COVID-19 case load. Economically we have been buoyed by unprecedented levels of public spending that leaves many scratching their head as to how that public debt will be repaid. Sadly, people have died but if you look at mortality from all sources it is comparable to other years. Culturally 2020 has been both a wasteland and a battlefield. Wasteland in that the entire cultural industry (music, performing arts, museums, galleries, movies) has been decimated; a battlefield in the clash of ideas about those wholeheartedly supporting the COVID narrative and those vehemently opposing it. At the end of the year, we are more divided, more politically radicalized, more distrustful of our government and institutions, less mentally healthy and less prosperous than just 10 months ago. Sadly, the major societal problems like environmental degradation and accelerating income inequality have not been addressed at all as we have spent the entire year fighting the virus (or reaction to virus). Poverty is on the rise as service industry and small businesses are decimated and population that relies on those jobs, with no other option, lives off government handouts. All in all, situation is grim.
2021 will not better. Vaccine will not return us to normal as the controversy around them continues to grow, with many scientist warning about lack of safety testing and with media powers increasingly censoring them. Furthermore, as the population becomes more and more disillusioned with government and global health institutions, distrust of vaccine will continue to grow. Economic hardship will come to roost this year. With the lockdowns during Christmas season, traditionally bread and butter of small businesses and tourism industries, many will shut their door permanently – restaurants, small retail outlets, specialty shops, gyms and beauty salons, tourism outfits etc. Mortgage payment holidays will expire, and government handout will dry up. All of these will combine for a severe economic slowdown which even rock bottom interest rates will not be able to help. Resistance to lockdowns and entire COVID-19 narrative will continue to grow, as will government repression. Crime and poverty will continue to rise and may result in civil unrest latter in the year. We will see the rise of radical political ideologies and continuing erosion of public discourse.
Yet not everything is gloom and doom. There is always a positive side to the story. I will use my personal example to illustrate. I have lost a business this year which gave me time and motivation to start this blog. My kids have not been able to play with their friends much but have grown more attached to me. My income has been reduced but so have my expenses. I have lost some friends who do not agree with my ideas but have grown closer to those that stuck around. I have not been able to travel but was able to explore more of the province in which I live. I have not been able to go to concerts, but I have picked up playing music myself. List goes on an on. Yes, 2020 has been brutal in many ways, but I am sure every single one of us can come up with at least 10 positive things that we got out of this year. And we can all be grateful for something – vast majority of us still have heat and roof over our heads, most have enough sustenance, most of us can still afford internet and the accompanying entertainment it provides. Bottom line is that life goes on, it survives, and by focusing on positives we can even find beauty in these dark times. So, chin up, be brave and cherish what you still have. Put yourself in the positive state of mind whenever you can and despite “objective” circumstances and not only will you survive 2021 but you may even come out ahead. Remember that not everyone is as strong and brave as us so look out for others as they will need help. With that I wish you a better 2021 and wide and bright horizons beyond!