I doubt that I’m the only one who is eager to close the door on 2020. A year that has caused so much turmoil in our lives, our countries, and the world. A year that sent us looking for things to do, ways to connect, while keeping sane in what seemed to have been the most insane world of our lifetimes. This year packed all the crazy we could bear. Even atheists must have secretly prayed to G-d for relief. A combination of bad politics, bad decisions, bad journalism, and bad intentions; sent us on an eleven-month long journey into man made hell.
The bad made its way into our lives by way of Wuhan, China. Months into an epidemic which started presumably in Wuhan, the Chinese decided to let us on their putrid little secret only because they were caught out. I’m sure that had it not been for Dr. Li Wenliang, one of many Wuhan doctors that blew the whistle, we would still be wondering what is infecting most us or killing some of us. Dr. Li Wenliang died soon after tweeting about the virus in February 2020. He was 34. Another Chinese scientist has recently come forward alleging the deliberate creation of the virus in the Wuhan government lab, and the subsequent cover up by the Chinese government to suppress the story. Whether one is to believe Dr. Li Meng Yan or not, one must wonder why it took the Chinese weeks to warn the rest of us that a deadly virus was on the lose and that it transmits easily and rapidly.
The consequent finger pointing by politicians did not help us in either dealing with the situation or even solving it. Once politicians grabbed hold of “the problem” we should have realized that we would be in trouble. The polarization of world politics divided us into camps. The virus became an inadvertent campaign ad and subsequently irrelevant to many. Mixed messages intermingled with panic and uncertainty put us on the brink of self-doubt as individuals and communities. Fear mongering was channeled into government and state controls that stifled our freedom and trampled shamelessly on our rights in Democracies that under normal circumstances would scoff at such restrictions in third world countries. The gradual erosion of our basic rights morphed into mandated lockdowns without legal process. We followed blindly the same politicians we normally would consider lower than pond scum. How that happened is still mind boggling to me and others with a certain degree of common sense.
The bad continued to dissolve into ugly as US elections drew near. A predominantly controlled Democratic congress bent on getting rid of President Trump played all the cards to include impeachment. A deliberate and pre-meditated attempt at foiling a presidency with minute precision from inauguration to the present. Millions were spent on a predictable outcome that wasted everyone’s time and meanwhile allowed the virus to spread. January and February were lost in circus-like impeachment processes, while downplaying the urgency to curtail travel to and from European countries already run amok by the virus.
Dr. Fauci was the face of arrogant smugness, the administration’s appointed virus guru who as late as February 29th on NBC “Today Show” shrugged the virus as a notch above annoyance, to quote: “at this time there is no need to change your habits over coronavirus”. Him and several other charlatans to include the insipid New York Governor Cuomo who as late as March 8th was urging New Yorkers to go and have fun, remain unscathed from their duplicitous behavior. Governor Cuomo had the chutzpah to write a book praising himself on his “leadership”. Wonder if he wrote it before or after he decided to send old folks back to infected homes to die? This excuse of a civil servant was nominated for an Emmy. Which makes anyone receiving an Emmy dumber than a rock.
Mid-year the “ugly” in extremism ripped US cities apart. A legitimate outrage against brutal and unethical police practices turned into unstoppable riots. Small businesses already at the mercy of lockdowns were burnt or vandalized out of business. Pinhead mayors and governors allowed the rampage to run into months fortified by an indigenous crooked media that refused to report the truth and supported by equally irrelevant leftist politicians in Congress. National monuments were vandalized, and a war on civility brought a nation to the brink of Bolshevik-like anarchy.
If the pillaging and the burning was not enough, we had to be subjected to months of soap opera-like presidential debates that confirmed what we have known all along: politicians are idiots. While the country was burning, statues of saints destroyed, churches and synagogues vandalized, the candidates were concerned about race identity. Race mongering for votes. Their demagoguery could have been taken out of a mafia novel. Corruption disguised as empathy for the oppressed. If it weren’t so screwed up it would be laughable.
The continual narrative on “science” based COVID political decisions reduced the world economy to shambles. Leaving third world countries poorer, and western countries attempting to keep the economy afloat by paying people to stay home. Old businesses that survived two world wars and other epidemics closed their doors in desperation. Children lost a year of education justified by a virus with 98% recovery and predominantly dangerous to the elderly and those in already high-risk categories. A fact very few will mention let alone admit. Teachers and schools are left scrambling for ways to educate our future generation already handicapped by ineffectual teaching methods and cretin political correctness. We are being donated a future generation of imbeciles without grit.
The rush to get a vaccine shoved aside other imminent needs for cures especially for terminal diseases like ALS and cancer. But like AIDS in the 80’s, COVID is the token political “disease” of today. COVID was put on the electoral ballot of public opinion strengthened by disingenuous information, partisan duplicity, and unwarranted fear. The FDA is yet to approve a much-needed NurOwn, an Israeli ALS stem cell drug that would stop the disease and often reverse it. A reprieve to the millions of ALS terminal patients waiting for a cure. However, the FDA approved without hesitation a vaccine with a 95% success probability that avoids 2% fatalities and dismisses 98% recoveries. Either the FDA failed mathematics, or we have all been drinking the Kool Aid.
The ugly finished off the year in a presidential election fraught with doubt and division. An election with not much choice. Eighter the tweeter or the senile. An almost painful result to a divided country that voted on who would do the least damage and not the most qualified. Two parties that have gone so far-off course from their original intent, that neither appeal to anyone except their base. Two men with pasts and questionable characters. Poster boys for the dysfunctional. And so, we limp toward the finish line of the bad and the ugly.
Through irritating and often irrational lockdowns we were compelled to stay home. Once the urge to shoot oneself had passed, we found an uncanny feeling of serenity. Brakes had been applied to our lives and whether voluntarily or not, we had to slow down. The silence and tranquility pushed us toward finding ways to keep busy. Hobbies and talents, we had dropped by the wayside of our busy lives found themselves active in our minds and free time. The fear that was thrust upon us by mainstream media and politicians gave us a sense of urgency to reach out. Estranged parents located children. Friends called friends. Siblings connected by social media, WhatsApp or whatever electronic method at their disposal. Loneliness was not an option. We forgave past hurts and pains. We wanted to make sure that we were fine, healthy, safe and doing well. We compared lockdown miseries and laughed at ourselves. We were united in fear that we might not have the chance to say “sorry” or “I love you”. A gentler cloud descended on an uncertain world.
The faithful who had lost their faith turned to live streaming of services, Masses, Shabbat prayers and G-d. They needed something bigger than themselves. Suddenly, a virus brought out the ardent desire to pray by cynics who had long given faith, religion, and G-d the boot. Amid chaos there was prayer. Amid fear there was hope. Amid loneliness we reached out. We saw work of kindness that dispersed hatred and division. Parents stayed home and spent time with children. Bonding took the form of teaching, baking, reading, playing games, or just talking. We were all listening more and talking less. Family became important and life saving.
In the Middle East, Arabs and Israelis were making agreements and friendships. The first to reach out was the United Arab Emirates. Soon Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco signed agreements with Israel. Serbia-Kosovo also signed peace agreements with Israel. This was historic because until 2020, neither side had acknowledge the existence of the other. A great step toward understanding and peace in a region normally fraught with angst and uncertainty.
Humorous end-of-year memes and gifs are kicking 2020 in the ass! But the year ended on a gentle note. From the beautiful lights of Chanukkah to the quiet nativity manger, we realized that 2020 made us appreciate the good in our lives. The simplicity in a weekly family Zoom meeting, a phone call to a long lost friend, or a quick wave at an old neighbor form the kitchen window. Simple acts of kindness have taken a new meaning. A wake-up call to our often-egoistic attempt at being perfect. Perfect job, perfect spouse, perfect parent, perfect child, and perfect friend. A multi-tasking whirlwind life without relevancy. We “cold started” our lives and enjoyed the simplicity that our environments had to offer. We were truly “woke”.
Cities will herald in the New Year without fireworks or crowds. But we will quietly look up at a midnight sky in whenever and wherever we are, and thank G-d for our good, reflect on the bad, and learn from the ugly that changed all our lives in 2020. A learning experience that will hopefully change us for the better; make us kinder, make us better, and make us stronger. Frohes Silvestre und gute wunsch!