This is THE year. The year you will be talking about for the rest of your life. You’ll tell the story of when the great lock-down hit and a pandemic swooped across the lands. You will explain how you, your family and friends made it through 2020.
It’s been a difficult year. Period. Full stop.
However, I am dedicating this last post of the year, to the silver lining in hopes that the positive optimism will spill into 2021. It’s hard to remember, but there have been some gems this year. I, for one, will walk into the New Year having gained a better perspective, feeling more connected as a global community and having increased gratitude for the small and big things in life.
Without further a due, here are my top 20 (not in ranking order) fantastic things that happened in 2020:
I along with the majority of Canadians and 81 million Americans took a collective sigh of relief as our faith in humanity was restored. Along with the worst leader in American history being elected out, there were a number of gems resulting from the election:
Kamala Harris becomes the first Black and Asian American vice-president.
During a horrifying pandemic, there was the highest voter turnout in history.
Black women led the voting charge, with more than 9 in 10 voting Democratic.
A higher range of diversity has been elected in, including the most Native Americans elected to Congress, the most trans people elected to state legislatures, and a serge of Republican women elected to Congress.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) was the biggest global civil rights movements in history. A collective upheaval resulting from the killing of George Floyd created a tsunami of protests across North America and around the world. Despite the pandemic, the largest gathering of protestors in history band together to demand change.
This movement has created a long overdue reflection and commitment from our society, our systems and ourselves. Although the progress may be slow, it will move us forward in a meaningful way. Major reform has started to take shape and will continue into 2021 and beyond.
The US Supreme Court ruled that no one can be fired for being gay or transgender. Honestly, it amazed me that this wasn’t already a thing… but since it wasn’t it’s good that it is now.
Over this past year, I have been looking at New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Arden, in awe and amazement. She has led a heart-forward, efficient and effective effort to eliminate the virus. She has become the world's radiant example of how to deal with crisis.
Female leaders in Taiwan (Tsai Ing-wen), Germany (Angela Merkel) and Finland (Sanna Marin) also deserve praise for their strategic early responses. Not to mention, our beloved and famed BC local, Dr. Bonnie Henry. She has led us through this difficult year with her compassion and dedication reminding us all to be kind, be calm and be safe.
Many of our male leaders, however, struggled through hesitant half-committed measures enacted too late. Also, many of them caught COVID themselves, acting as radiant examples of what not to do in a global pandemic (Boris Johnson, Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump)
In conclusion, to be clear - men are NOT inherently better leaders.
Justice was served when Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for the sex crimes he committed. It was an important milestone in the #MeToo movement that has shifted the patriarchal power paradigm.
In true human-form, by telling us we can’t connect, we found creative and innovative ways to connect in more meaningful ways. I have connected more with my childhood friends, siblings and parents more than ever before. We created a new normal virtual culture that has helped bring people together, which will outlive the pandemic.
Throughout 2020 we built communities again, and connected with our neighbours. Across the globe there were countless stories of:
people looking out for and helping their neighbours.
children sharing jokes to those passing by.
large charitable donations and events.
gatherings outside at 7pm every night for weeks to cheer and bang pots in gratitude of front-line workers.
social distanced dance parties in the streets.
people playing instruments and singing out their balconies to spread joy.
South Korea's Parasite made history by winning best picture. It was the first non-English language film to win this award. Against all odds, a non-Hollywood movie was given the rightful honour and we collectively cheered this symbolic shift and dreamed about what it meant for cinema in the future.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they were stepping down from their duties as senior royals. Showing the world that:
a) Despite Disney’s best efforts to dupe us, being a princess actually sucks.
b) It highlighted to the world how different the white vs. Black female royalty were treated by media and the public.
c) Meagan showed the world what a strong woman does when confronted with such crap - picks up, brushes off, protects her family and moves on to better things.
*The couple went on to sign a $40M podcast contract, the first episode of 2020 Archewell Audio Holiday Special dropped this week on Spotify.
Hats off to scientists around the world who responded with unprecedented speed and united purpose to understand the virus, to share health information, to discuss best practices and protocols and ultimately, to create vaccines.
With the first doses being administered, we are relieved the end is near.
Speaking of scientists kicking-ass and taking names this year, on August 25th, Africa was declared free of wild polio. This is the second virus to be eradicated from the continent since smallpox 40 years ago.
Mother earth got some relief this year. Global carbon dioxide emissions fell by the largest amount ever recorded (seven per cent) in 2020. We expect efforts to continue as there have been a number of substantial commitments made to improve:
China, Japan and South Korea pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.
The US is set to rejoin the Paris agreement and Joe Biden promised a $2 trillion climate plan.
The EU and the UK are having a pissing contest over the biggest emissions reductions by 2030 (55 percent and 67 percent respectively).
Corporations are also getting on board, Apple committed to being net zero by 2030 and Wal-Mart by 2040.
In December, 2020, 14 nations that own 40 percent of the world's coastline created the largest united ocean sustainability initiative. Their objectives focus on restoring fish populations, improving reefs and eliminating plastics.
In other water news, the UN announced that the amount of large fish in the Mediterranean and Black Sea has doubled in the last two years.
Lastly, a new sanctuary was announced to open in Nova Scotia, which will be a haven for captive whales. The Whale Sanctuary Project will be home to beluga whales previously used for entertainment by parks and zoos.
Phew, thank you Mr. Trudeau for legalizing cannabis just in time!
The result of a year-in on cannabis legalization? It’s actually been… fine. With that under our belt, people are now calling for further decriminalization of other drugs. Many citizens and governments are shifting their views on what used to be considered ‘dangerous drugs’. Advocates have linked decriminalizing drugs for personal use to systemic racism as the current legislation disproportionately impacts BIPOC and marginalized communities. With higher social acceptance, more researchers will explore the possible medicinal benefits of these previously taboo drugs.
Finally, the absurdly archaic management views of having to be in the office have shifted. The internet passed a serious stress test and companies invested in the infrastructure and technology required to work from home, or wherever.
Companies are realizing the benefits and the post-COVID impacts could be great. Companies will save on expensive office space, employees will have better balance and are eager to be more productive to maintain this arrangement.
Book sales increased substantially in print, digital and audiobooks. Harper Collins, the second largest publishing house, disclosed a 45% increase in profits over last year. We were graced with some pretty awesome books this year including Barack Obama 768-page memoir.
This year, we dodged many events that bring undue stress into the Holiday season. We avoided awkward, high-anxiety office holiday parties. There were no stuffy gymnasiums filled with parents waiting for hours to hear their kid sing Jingle bells with the entire Grade 3 and 4 classrooms. Plus, the long obligatory family Christmas dinners were cancelled with that drunk Uncle that inevitably says something highly inappropriate.
Last Christmas I bought my husband tickets to see Hamilton in NYC in April. That didn’t happen. However, Disney+ came in and saved the day. As so many of us ached for cultural experiences like this, many organizations stepped up and offered virtual viewings.
The SPCA and other rescue organizations could not keep up with the demand to adopt pets this year. If all those pets who got a loving home this year doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, there’s something terribly wrong with you.
There are so many people we take for granted. They are a part of our society's complex weave but we hardly think about them. During this pandemic, we learned to appreciate everyone who contributes to our lives and those who keep us safe. This ranged from front line health care providers to coffee baristas. We began to appreciate the selfless dedication of farmers, truck drivers, grocery clerks, post office workers and so many more who showed up every day, despite the risks, to keep goods and services moving. They were the pillars that insured our economy didn't collapse.
At the beginning of 2020, Canada was voted the second-best country in the world to live. What a beautiful and wonderful place to be 'stuck' in during the pandemic. I know we have work to do going into 2021, but we are starting in a pretty amazing place.
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