With the start of each academic year, it can be nice to take a moment and reflect on the calendar year so far, allowing us to review accomplishments and set new goals. Well, not this year. I think the majority of us would agree that 2020 is a dumpster fire, and we are no longer naive enough to hope it will turn around. After all, we do still have flu season and a presidential election to get through. On that note, let’s recap 2020 to now.
Note: This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the disasters that occured this year. Just a few that came to mind.
So many of us were thinking, “2020 is going to be my year!” How wrong we were. The new year begins with fires burning through the outback in Australia. There is also that questionable week when we feared we could go to war with Iran over the assassination of Major Quassim Suleimani. Then there was that quick impeachment trial of President Trump. Does anyone even remember that? You’d think there could be no year so crazy that a presidential impeachment would be forgettable, but, well, here we are. There is some talk about a novel coronavirus spreading through China. Brexit finally happens. Kobe Bryant dies and the world loses an incredible athlete. #MambaForever.
Shortest month of the year, so minimal time for chaos to be reaped, right? Wrong. Being a leap year, it just brought one more day of misery. Covid spreads from China and is hitting Europe hard. For whatever reason, most of us are not too concerned with the virus running rampant in the U.S., and no significant actions are taken to prevent its spread. We are still traveling and living our best pre-pandemic lives. So naive.
On March 11, a pandemic is born! Two days later the United States declares a state of emergency (why it took two days to figure that out, I’ll never know) and our economy goes into a lockdown with us. Au Revoir, bull market, in-person classes, and life as we know it. Bonjour, social distancing, virtual learning, and a recession!
Spring has sprung, warmer weather is coming, and Trump, self-anointed Covid expert, states that SARS-CoV2 is a seasonal virus. Hurrah! Interestingly, the infection rates, unprecedented number of hospitalizations, and mortality rates do not seem to indicate that. There are questions of whether hydroxychloroquine will be an effective treatment, but worst-case scenario, we can inject disinfectants into our bodies and that will solve everything.
Over 100,000 people in the United States have died from Covid at this point. There appears to be no end in sight. Meanwhile, countries in Europe begin to reopen. The world finally pays attention to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who was kill while on a jog in February. The world finally pays attention to the murder of Breonna Taylor, who was shot in her bed during a botched police raid in March. On Memorial Day, the world pays attention after a video goes viral of George Floyd being killed during an arrest in Minneapolis. People watch in horror as he is asphyxiated by a police officer kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Joe Biden wins enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee for President. Racial reckoning and social unrest spread throughout the country, sparking one of the largest social movements in the history of the United States. The names of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks (among others) are chanted in protests all over the country. Curfews are implemented. Corporations begin to examine their own problems with racial discrimination. Defunding the police becomes an active discussion. The removal of confederate flags and statues become a political flashpoint. We, as a society, begin to talk and examine our own beliefs surrounding systemic racism. Puerto Rico is hit with multiple earthquakes. Trump has his first reelection rally in a pretty empty stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma (thanks, K-pop fans!).
We discover that Russia has been putting bounties on American soldiers. But that’s okay because our president may or may not have been debriefed. He can’t remember. Elon Musk partners with NASA to send two people, who are lucky enough to leave this earth, into space. Lucky astronauts. Oh, and Yeezy is running for president. “No man should have all that power?”
A devastating ammonium nitrate explosion devastates Beirut, Lebanon. A disputed election in Belarus between incumbent and now five-term president, Alexander Lukashenko and opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, drives nationwide protests and prompts Sviatlana to flee the country. Russian political opposition leader, Alexey Navalny, may or may not be poisoned with a toxic nerve agent. Mail-in voting this fall becomes a political debate. The president responds by endorsing the U.S.P.S. budget cuts and then encouraging North Carolina residents to vote twice to test the election system.
It’s back to school time for New York City public school, the largest public school system in the United States. No precise plans and safety protocols have been implemented prior to the start of the academic year. College campuses all over the U.S. have reopened and some have already “reclosed” due to Covid outbreaks. The C.D.C. makes questionable promises for a SARS-CoV2 vaccine by late October and November, even though biotech companies are still in Phase III for clinical trials. Wildfires are spreading throughout California and Oregon due to record-shattering heat waves and human-caused climate change that is heightening fire risks.
Who knows what kind of excitement the last three months of 2020 will bring! All of which is to say…2019 wasn’t half bad, eh?