Thursday, December 31, 2020
Was 2020 the Worst Year Ever?
Happy New Year’s Eve! Today is the last day of the longest, shortest, weirdest, most interesting, scariest, sickest (not in a good way), year of our lives. 2020 gets a resounded good riddance from 11 out of 10 people. The pandemic is obviously top of mind. Economic and social strife are still boiling. In January Kobe Bryant’s helicopter went down. Why does it feel like that happened 7 years ago? This year can kick rocks. The question I am going to pose is: Was it really that bad? Sure, it sucked and all, but maybe, just maybe, possibly, there is a smidgen of a silver lining here. I think it is all about perspective. I am going to play devil’s advocate for 2020. Let’s take a look at few areas which we all agree sucked and I will try and pull some hope out of them.
Health and the Pandemic
I mean this is obviously the first thing we have to talk about. Every damn day. Case counts, death counts, hospitalization counts. The news has become absolutely horrid. Then there is the fake news which is even worse. Which one is fake again? Is it all fake? Is it all real? What day is it? The Covid-19 Pandemic has obviously taken center stage and with good reason. Millions of people have gotten sick. Thousands of people in Canada and over a million around the world have died from this terrible illness. What possibly can be seen as a silver lining in this dumpster fire of a situation? Quite a bit actually.
Covid is burning through the countryside but only seems to be fatal to the elderly and those with existing health complications. This would mean being in good health is important. I wish it was spoken about more how being physically fit is so vitally important. It helps you fight off illness even not in a pandemic. We should shine a spotlight on that, and all strive to be in better shape. Eat well, work out, de-stress your life.
As for the elderly, we have failed them. While goofball kids throw house parties, they fail to realize, or just don’t care, that they could be killing granny. This pandemic has shined a light on how mismanaged our elder care system is and that to me is pathetic. We need to prioritize elder care and IT MUST become part of our social health system here in Canada. This means no more Long-Term Care Homes with PSW’s wearing garbage bags as PPE. This should have always been the case and sadly our mismanagement of this system has cost lives. We must learn from this and prioritize elder care. If my grandma was at one of those homes, I would have stormed in like Liam Neeson in the movie “Taken” and gotten her out. Respect our old folks, they have more than earned it.
It has also shown us how damn important our healthcare workers are. Having been hospitalized in the past, I have always known how important nurses are, but to see them step up during this crisis is simply remarkable. They are our angels, putting in dangerous work every day to make our lives better. They always deserved a standing ovation and this year they have finally gotten one.
How about teachers and early childhood educators? “Oh they make so much money and all they do is babysit.” Yeah, that tune changed the second your brat kids were home all day while you were working. Every parent I know was calling for teacher raises by the end of June. A 3-year-old running around while you are on a Zoom call is enough to make anyone look up the criminal code and mandatory minimums where they live.
Lastly, how great is the wash-your-hands movement. Soap them up, sanitize, and step back from me. DO IT NOW! I have always wanted to tell people standing in my “bubble” to back the hell up and this year it has become extremely acceptable even when accompanied by an F-bomb. For this, I am beyond thankful. All it took was a pandemic to get people to clean themselves properly. Maybe the next Pandemic will be cured with bathing and wearing deodorant? One can dream.
This is the second epidemic going on right now. Businesses being shut down. Many not surviving the wait. Small businesses being lockdown while Big Box stores are showing record profits. People losing their jobs and then finding out there is no job to come back to. Bread lines and donation centers across the world with hundreds waiting for food. This is just horrible. Much like the health crisis, the economic one can show us some light as well.
Small business has been forced to innovate during this crisis and they have. Restaurants have set up deliveries and curbside pickup. When summer was here, patios got expanded to accommodate social distancing. Pop-up markets sprung up everywhere to allow people to shop outside. Many small businesses focused on an online retail platform that helps them reach more people. Increased social media presence became vital, something that should have always been the case. While this has been a gloomy spot for many, there are some innovations they will take with them beyond the Pandemic.
Individuals have gotten their butt kicked during this period as well. I know it may be hard to think of a bright side to having no income, but I am going to try. I am one of the lucky ones who didn’t lose my job as I can thankfully work from home. I do however come from the restaurant industry, over 15 years in it, and still have many clients and friends who are still in it. What Covid has done for them is give them something very valuable…
Time. There has been plenty of time to evaluate your role, your income, your workplace, and even your life’s path. One thing I found out after 10 years in the restaurant industry was that my job was precarious at best. At any moment I could get fired for no reason, lose the best section in the restaurant, get hurt or sick, or have my shifts cut and there was literally NOTHING I could do about it. I am not kidding. NOTHING. This scared the crap out of me. I was 30, making decent money, and had no job security. I decided that I needed money for that security and began saving. While saving, I was recruited for a new role and did my education and training to be a Financial Advisor. Fast forward to today I am 2 years removed from the restaurant industry, and 5 years into a career that I deeply love. What I am getting at is that we all need security. We all need a plan. We all need value in our lives. If it is not a pandemic next time, it will be something else. I have been sick and unable to work. I have been poor. I have been unemployed through no fault of my own. I know how it feels. It feels like crap. I want us all to gain that security and gain that confidence that nothing can shake us. At any moment we can lose our livelihoods and this is something we all have to prepare for. More than likely next time it won’t be a Pandemic. It will be something completely different that only happens to YOU and there won’t be a government bailout forthcoming sadly.
What a bunch of gems our leaders have proven to be during this troubling period. Liberal, Conservative, Right, Left, Middle, Underneath, you all seem to have no clue what to do. We have leaders going on vacation during lockdown while telling us to stay home. We have others getting their hair cut privately after shutting the same salon down a week earlier. We have a Brexit deal that finished this morning, hours before the deadline tonight at midnight and FOUR YEARS after the Brexit vote took place. Yes, it took them FOUR YEARS to finalize the trade deal between Britain and the European Union. What a group of amazing wizards all of our “civilized” countries have at the helm. What possible good can we take from this parade of numbskulls running the show for the past year?
How about we can finally take solace in the fact that we know what a politician’s true job is. No, it is not to make policy or to represent us, or anything else they may say in between broken campaign promises. Their actual job, and only job, is TO GET ELECTED. If they do not get elected, they have no job. Think about if you had to fight to keep your job every 4 years. You would be kissing a lot of butts and telling a lot of lies while “working” every day. Let’s be honest here, politicians are extremely unremarkable people. We all seem to desire the “everyman” candidate, who we can relate to and have a beer with. Well folks, that is what we got. We got the guy at the end of the bar who spews nonsense out his mouth, lies about all the great things he does, pays with a coupon, and doesn’t tip the waitress.
The key is this pandemic has opened our eyes to what the government is all about. They will not, and cannot, save us. They don’t have the wherewithal or means to do so. It is on us to save ourselves. The truth is that this has always been the case. Sadly, or not so sadly, the amazingness of living in this part of the world has given us a false sense of security with our leaders. When the poo hits the fan, they will jump in save the world. This has never been the case. Abraham Lincoln isn’t coming out of the tunnel folks. We need to make ourselves recession-proof and that includes not having to rely on the government to help us during a crisis. The truth is we cannot count on them to look out for us, we must do it for ourselves and each other.
Social Life and Isolation
One of the saddest parts of the year was the utter isolation many of us have had to endure. Hangouts with friends canceled. Family gatherings canceled. Concerts canceled. Weddings canceled. Maybe the wedding thing isn’t too bad. I digress. TBD has become the 3 most used letters this year. Everything is To Be Determined. Loneliness and isolation have hit us all and the effects are drastic. I feel so incredibly bad for the elderly who count on tea with loved ones and now we are all terrified to hang out with granny. Mental health concerns are on the rise. Substance abuse is as well. Divorces are up too. I didn’t get to see Nelly and 2 Live Crew this past summer! What bright light can we take from this trash heap of solitude?
Maybe, just maybe, this nightmare of a year has shown us how important the ones we love are to us. A simple coffee with your Mom and Dad is now an event. Calling your grandparents is an essential service. Birthday party drive-bys are a community social. This year has shown us what is truly important, our own health and safety, and that of the people we care about. Fake friends have faded away. Real friends have stepped up to the plate. Bad relationships ended. Good ones got stronger. Mean people got meaner, and now we can ignore them. Nice people got nicer and we can bring them closer. We always wasted time, but now we don’t waste the time that matters, the time with our loved ones. We realized that time is fleeting and it has to spent productively. We also realized how social we really are and that an outing is more than just a fun time or a blurry memory. It is time spent with the most important people in our lives. This might be our “the Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes bigger” moment and we should not let it slide.
As we enter 2021, we should take stock of what was lost, but also what was gained. My heart goes out to the people who lost loved ones, lost their job, lost their businesses, or lost themselves during this wild year. We all need to check in on our loved ones, our friends, our favorite shops #buylocal, and people in our neighborhoods that need our help. This year should not end in vain but instead, end with a lesson. We must learn about the importance of being kind, being healthy, being patient, being rational, and just being an overall good person. This year has exposed the ugly. Let’s ditch it and move on to bigger and better things. 2021 ain’t ready for us! Peace and Love, Joe – BB
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