Ahh 2020, we started it with such lofty ambitions as a year that had such a nice ring to it really. But then a pesky little pandemic hit, the world ground to a halt and every aspect of our lifestyle was impacted.
But as they say sometimes the best gifts come badly wrapped, so let’s enjoy a little 2020 hindsight along with some show notes of what we learned.
This was the year that introduced a whole range of terms to our collective dialogue – lockdown, social distancing, remote working, home schooling and so much more.
It was ‘unprecedented’, so we had to ‘pivot’ and ‘adapt’, and it all kicked off in January with a few quiet mentions in the media before COVID was declared an international pandemic on March 11.
By the end of the month, Australia was in lockdown, with children sent home from school and most of the country working from home.
There were fears the economy would collapse, unemployment rates would skyrocket, and the news was grim, oh so grim.
But then through good fortune and good management, Australia by and large dodged a bullet.
As we round out the end of the year, the economy has stabilised, government stimulus appears to have worked and optimism is on the up.
That’s all prefaced against a disclaimer of ‘touch wood’, but even with sporadic outbreaks we exit the year in better shape than many many nations across the globe
If the Queen thought 1992 was an ‘annus horribilis’ for the royal family, 2020 arguably rivalled it. In January, Prince Harry announced he and wife Meghan Markle were tapping out as senior members of the royal family, and in February Prince Andrew was linked to the Epstein scandal.
The royals didn’t escape the threat of a pandemic either. Prince Charles contracted COVID in March, while it was later revealed Prince Harry had tested positive in April.
As if things weren’t complicated enough globally, the US held its presidential election in November and it came with all the tweeting, outlandish claims and lax relationship with the truth that we’ve come to expect from US politics after Trump’s first four years in office.
Initial indicators showed Trump was likely to reclaim office, but soon all those postal votes came in and the situation began to shift. Still, six weeks of uncertainty followed before Joe Biden was officially elected president by the US electoral college.
Because of America’s convoluted electoral system, however, things aren’t yet official. It won’t be until outgoing vice president Mike Pence reads the official electoral college tally on January 6 that America’s next president will formally be declared.
In the tinderbox that is America a social spark ignited a global fire. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police prompted global outrage and the Black Lives Matter social movement dominated the headlines.
It also inspired widespread support, with a Pew Research study in June finding 67 per cent of Americans across all races and socioeconomic tiers supported the movement.
2020 proved truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and our world is not as certain as we previously may have believed.
But it also caused us to rethink our lives in some positive ways as well. We discovered Australia’s pretty good in a crisis, and unless it comes to buying toilet paper, by and large we’re decent people who can unite in the face of a challenge.
We can also work from home, which caused us to rethink our living arrangements including where we live and how our houses should serve our needs.
We gained a new appreciation for teachers and medical staff, we probably drank a little too much, but most importantly we got back to basics.
We enjoyed a new perspective on the importance of family and friends, learned to talk about our mental health, and appreciated the divides between us aren’t that deep.
No matter who you were in 2020, this year was at times overwhelming. But was it the re-set we needed as well? Because navigating a crisis illustrated we have a lot to be grateful for as well.