Has there ever been a year so horrible?
The Covid-19 global pandemic has devastated so many lives in such a short period of time it truly boggles the imagination. Writers have a natural tendency to look for structure in any sequence of events, some intelligent narrative, a desperate attempt, I suppose, to find some meaning in life. We are always looking for some lesson to be learned.
So what was this year all about? What is the fable of 2020?
For the last four years I’ve wondered if some great cosmic disturbance occurred without anyone noticing, that nudged us off normalcy and set us on an alternate dystopic track. Perhaps some bad actor took a time machine to the past, altered something, and now we are experiencing the result. How else to explain this America, which for eight years enjoyed its first Black President, was addressing climate change, embracing people of all genders, races, and cultures, to be suddenly turned into this horror where facts are mixed with fiction, science eschewed, hate and ignorance embraced, and racism brought back into vogue?
But no, this year was not the result of a science fiction prank.
This has been a difficult, challenging year, but also a year of great insight, and it seems to me that we have been heading toward this dystopia for some time now, I just didn’t see it… didn’t want to see it I suppose, because it is difficult, disheartening, depressing. I’m a positive person, an optimist, but for too long I’ve been looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. I am also a writer, and writing is first and foremost about exposing truth, the good, the bad and the ugly, lifting the rock to see clearly the creepy crawlies underneath. Because you must see the truth before you can begin the hard work of making things better.
Now looking back upon this year I see this narrative: we are like Scrooge, greedy, certainly, but embodying even worse qualities; violent, ignorant, wasteful, power-hungry, racist. Racist, still! After four hundred years! Why are we still stuck on racism? Shouldn’t we be talking about flying cars by now? Racism has been with this country from its inception and we cannot shake it. As Ta-Nahesi Coates said, its not just a bump in the road, it is the road. This year we have been visited by the ghost of Christmas yet to come, showing us our collective grave by sweeping so many of us into it. Will we learn the lessons of this year and keep them always in our heart? Or will we continue our violent, wasteful, greedy, racist ways? Will we learn to be good guests on this beautiful planet that has been hosting us for so long or will nature become so sick, so sick of us, that she cures herself by eradicating the disease of “homo sapiens” once and for all?
So what is to be done? Well, let’s roll up our sleeves. It’s time to deal with the creepy crawlies.