Oh What A Year

Well okay, we’ve just lived a year that most of us never saw coming. it feels auspicious therefore I am dusting off my blog to mark the occasion.

Here lies the year 2020

As Charles Dickens once wrote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” I think this might perfectly sum up the year 2020. For me and my family 2020 started off with the best of times, a trip of a lifetime. We flew to the Land Down Under to visit my son and his girlfriend. Even though Australia had been experiencing a brutal wildfire season we decided not to cancel our trip as it had been planned months in advance, which turned out to be a good decision. We spent 2 weeks traveling in a caravan (camper van in America speak) along the coast of Australia, then explored New Zealand for another two weeks. Somewhere during our travels, we began hearing about a new virus breaking out in a place called Wuhan, China.

The story grew as we travelled, a cruise ship was infected and quarantined. People were concerned but we weren’t too worried. It was time to end our trip and the headlines were all about the hard rain which had flooded and washed out roads (ruining some of our travel plans) but the good news was the fires were extinguished. The virus had a new name Covid-19 and more people were getting it.

It was towards the end of February that we flew back to the states. Many people of Asian ethnicity were wearing masks at the airport. I wondered about this virus; were those folks being paranoid, or just cautious and culturally more accustomed to mask-wearing? I would soon find out.

After returning to the States, and my job, I was soon laid off when everything closed down on March 19. The enormity of what this meant hadn’t sunk in at that point. I thought we might be closed a few months, then we’d be back to normal, but it turned into something much more serious.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The events of this year have been eye-opening in many ways; the weakness and failure in leadership of our president was punctuated as he used the virus to try and lay blame on China, then called it a hoax and even a Democratic hoax. He let the country down in a multitude of ways pitting states against each other for PPE (an acronym I had never heard of before this year) and testing. He even politicized the wearing of masks and held super spreader events, fired experts, and belittled scientists. Trump’s supporters followed his lead, and soon the US had the highest death rates of any other country (as of this moment, more than 330,000 people have died in our country from Covid, and that number is rising daily) while many still believe the required protocols put in place to slow the spread, are an attempt to take away people’s freedoms. Our economy is in dire straits; many folks are out of work, businesses are closing right and left. People are dying alone in the ICU. Hospital and health workers are overwhelmed.

However, some folks rose to the occasion; they helped each other when they could, however they could. The artists kept creating, playing music, singing, writing, dancing, even if only in their own apartments and shared through social media to lighten our spirits. This pandemic comes down to caring about others. Wearing a mask is protecting others. Most of the folks I know are complying with the social distancing/mask-wearing protocols; we truly are in this together.

Enter social media. It was used to spread information, optimism, hope, and pure entertainment, but at the same time, this venue created opportunity and fertile ground for hate groups and conspiracy theories to flourish; and flourish they did. Hatred and racism are part of America’s dark underbelly. Social media has allowed it to see the light. Donald Trump, an expert in getting media attention, has used this as a venue to create more division in our country and to hold on to power. It is a force that needs to be reckoned with because of its use to spread falsehoods, and create fake realities., It is proven to be vulnerable to hacking by unfriendly countries, and hate groups love it.

Let’s not forget the protests. The Black Lives Matter movement became a global phenomenon, set off by a horrible video posted on social media that has become infamous, showing the murder of George Floyd from asphyxiation at the hands of a white police officer with his knee on George Floyd’s neck, his hands casually placed in his pockets, while Floyd pleads for his life. The protests were a primal scream in reaction to years of inequality and violence perpetrated against people of color; hopefully, the beginning of much needed change.

A few other things happened: California wildfires, National Security hacked by Russia, Impeachment trial moved to Senate, hurricanes, severe storms due to climate change. Trump tantrums, national depression, domestic terrorism, Joe Exotic, Baby Yoda, and more.

As we come to the end of this watershed year, we have a much needed new president. Even though Trump and his supporters have tried and continue to try to delegitimize the election in which Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won by 7 million votes, Trump is running out of options. His presidency has left our Democracy in shambles, but it looks like it is still standing. Hope is the word of the day; hope that new leadership can get a handle on Covid, expeditiously disperse the vaccines, get our country up and running again, rejoin the Paris Accord and start addressing climate change for real.

Hope

On a personal note, I have been creating more, writing more, and hoping to self publish in the field of Children’s Books (so much learned and so much still to learn) in the coming year. My heart is full of hope; hope that we can fix some of the hate flowing through our beautiful country, hope that vaccines finally stop the virus from killing thousands every day, hope that we can soon visit each other and travel again, hope for better days for everyone. Happy 2021!

Sydney Selfie
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