September 18, 2020 Berni

2020: A year full of surprises

The start of the year marked it to be remarkable.
Since the beginning of the year, sweet-sour situations and recent developments have made it unique. The remaining months should be something we can look forward and make the most out of it. Maybe you think 2020 has been the worse. But is this statement true? We share some advice to make the most out of it.

Let’s begin referring 2020 as a number and particularities in the Gregorian calendar. 2020 is a leap year (and a very cool logo ) Leap year means there was an extra day in February and that we will have 53 weeks instead of 52 .
What marks 2020 particularly now, is that newspapers will have a special section on COVID-19. There has been no country that has not been touched by the coronavirus. But its omnipresent characteristics is the global economic crisis that has also dramatically marked it.

Looks like this year had it all. The usual hurricanes, massive fires, but adding to the mix we had plane crashes that almost lead us to the 3rd World War, impeachments, poisoning with plot twists and even important developments in the space program. Most of the world has experienced lockdown (with or without opera singing in balconies) due to COVID-19. Still, would that make it the worse year according to human history?
The good, the bad and the ugly of 2020
A short article cannot fully summarize what we, as humans, have experienced in this year. We need to oversimplify and overlooked certain events for the sake of space and time. Not referring to these events does not mean in any way they are less critical.
The start of January began with Australia’s nationwide bushfires. At the end of the month, more than 110,000 km2 or 27.2 million acres of forest and parks had been burned . Only to have been registered the end of last fire by early May. The cause was mainly a severe drought, high temperatures and wind.
There was also a Persian Gulf crisis involving Iran, Iraq and some American soldiers. By February, there was an acquittal of impeachment of US President, Donald Trump. In March, there was the start of quarantine in Europe (Italy being the first). A side note is that in Asia, in January, China began with a lockdown, not making possible the celebration of the Chinese New Year, which is a big celebration not only in this country but also China’s cultural neighbouring countries like Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.
In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that the world economy shrank 3%, the worst contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s.[ ]
By May, the death of George Floyd ignited public anger on discriminatory police brutality, reviving strongly the Black Lives Matter movement. In favour communities in Australia, Asia and Europe summed up and showed their support by protesting in the streets in massive numbers.
In August, there was a chemical explosion in Beirut that made Lebanon political situation worse. Finally, by September fires on California are getting similar to Australia. California fires so far have an extension of around 12,764 km2 (3,154,107ac according to California Fire Department) . The reason behind these fires is combined, starting by lightning, wind condition and climate change , something similar to Australia.
Some will say it’s the beginning of global warming, where seasons are starting to blur. Depending on where you are located, you will have realized that seasons are beginning to be too hot, cold, long or short. Specific regions with ice have recorded their lowest, bringing challenges to inhabitants that rely on snow for water collection.
Good news could be summed up in the cooperation of nations. Technological developments and the reviving of the space program. Giving us a possibility to make space travel commercially available in the next years. Lock down also showed us how the decrease of human intervention can lead to dramatically decrease on CO2 and NOX emissions. China’s cities showed clearer and cleaner air. Many people due to corona and lockdowns started distance learning and developed further their personal goals.
COVID-19 and the world economic crisis are amplifying all events.
While riding the metro in Vienna, Austria, a shower thought came to me. A shower thought is a profound realization you have in a proper moment of inner peace. It may sound weird because a public transit may not be a synonym of an inspiring place. This year is like any other year. Events, good and evil, are happening all the time. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to downplay the misery, accidents or deaths that people have experienced. These personal events and the way we processed them may not be part of the headlines in the most famous newspapers or tv shows or social media. Still, they pinpoint a headline in our personal experience. What this means is that whatever happens to us, good or bad, will echo in the way we will remember this year -adding to it our emotional intelligence. But the way we tell our story, independently of what we have experienced will define our year.
 
The year 2020 was not going to be simpler as 2019 and 2018. The reality is that life will come with struggles, every day no matter the year. 2020 already painted difficult for some. At the beginning of the year, 168 million people required humanitarian help (meaning food, shelter, health care, education and protection) according to the UN’s Global Humanitarian Overview.
 
Let’s remember that the only thing constant is change. Back in 2019, we were still facing conflict, extreme weather and struggling economies. Even way back in 1933, people in Germany began to be imprisoned because of their beliefs. We can also mention the Great Depression from 1929 to 1933. It is worth citing the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918. If we go further back in time, the Great Plague of 1679, only in Vienna, killed around 76,000 people[i]. Some scientist consider that the worst year was 536, where a volcano erupted in Iceland darkening the skies for a year and triggering a mini global ice age[ii].
 
Good news is that life expectancy will hit 72. Infant and adult mortality will be at an all-time low. It will change due to COVID19. But back then, in December 2019, it was still the case.
 
These changes are only more evident, mainly on account of Global Warming. Something we already knew at least ten years ago. This pandemic makes it more evident the significant change ahead and that only with global efforts, we can change as humanity for good and for bad.
 
The object of this is to tell you that 2020 is not the worst year or a bad year. We need to change our narratives.
 
According to the TED Talk: “How changing your story can change your life” by therapist Lori Gottlieb, she talks about ways to break free from stories we have been telling ourselves by becoming our own editor and rewriting our narrative from a different point of view[iii].
 
Remember, bad times make good times better. Let’s be grateful for what we have, remember from past lessons and live the moment.
 
Sometimes to understand our future, we need to go back and put the pieces together -and do some editing.
 
To finish this post, I would like to add a quote from Steve Jobs that resonates to me now: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” There you have it, dear reader, to make sense of the happenings so far, and make sense of it we need to look back and have hope that all will make sense in the future. And adding to that remember to edit your narrative for your own good. After all, like Gottlieb says: “Stories are the way we make sense of our lives.”
 
What will be your story about 2020? We would love to read your thoughts. Don’t forget to cover your nose and mouth when coughing and a face mask according to your Health Ministry Organisation’ suggestion. It would be best if you wouldn’t experience more quarantine[iv].
 
 
Here you can watch the talk of Lori Gottlieb on How changing your story can change your life.
 Link: https://youtu.be/O_MQr4lHm0c

By Mars Lozano
 
 
[i] Porter, Stephen (2009). The Great PlagueISBN 9781848680876. Retrieved 19 January 2017.p. 139. https://books.google.at/books?id=x2EBkPNnUXEC&pg=PA139&dq=Great+Plague+of+Vienna+%2276,000%22&redir_esc=y&hl=en#v=onepage&q=Great%20Plague%20of%20Vienna%20%2276%2C000%22&f=false. Accessed on Sep 15, 2020.
[ii] https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/19/opinion/contributors/is-2020-the-worst-year-ever/
[iii] https://youtu.be/O_MQr4lHm0c accessed on Sep 16, 2020.
[iv] https://www.guide4moms.com/2020/04/2020-memes.html
https://www.google.at/search?q=MMXX+logo&tbm=isch&chips=q:mmxx+logo,online_chips:2020+mmxx&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi1y-WPx_7qAhXUtqQKHWDqCqYQ4lYoA3oECAEQGQ&biw=1434&bih=643
[1] Wikipedia on 2020 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020
[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-50951043 accessed on Sep15, 2020.
[1] https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2020/06/24/WEOUpdateJune2020. accesed on Sep 15, 2020.
[1] https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/ accessed on Sep 15, 2020.
[1] https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/a29623250/california-fires/ accessed on Sep 15, 2020.
[1] Porter, Stephen (2009). The Great PlagueISBN 9781848680876. Retrieved 19 January 2017.p. 139. https://books.google.at/books?id=x2EBkPNnUXEC&pg=PA139&dq=Great+Plague+of+Vienna+%2276,000%22&redir_esc=y&hl=en#v=onepage&q=Great%20Plague%20of%20Vienna%20%2276%2C000%22&f=false. Accessed on Sep 15, 2020.
[1] https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/19/opinion/contributors/is-2020-the-worst-year-ever/
[1] https://youtu.be/O_MQr4lHm0c accessed on Sep 16, 2020.
[1] https://www.guide4moms.com/2020/04/2020-memes.html