“Worst Year EVER”
— Said everyone, always
One of the perks of being 31 in an era where everything happens faster and faster each year is that I get to be a bitter old man long before my ancestors had to. I’m not gonna turn this into self-promotion and tell you my story of why exactly I have grown up so fast.
Every year, at some point, I start hearing people say “___ sucks”. The positive among the bunch will joke and say that they will just go to sleep now and next year will be better. Well, there’s even a German song about 2020 called “WTF”. The lyrics are in German (sorry about that), but I find it both hilarious and enlightening.
It’s essentially a story where they wake up a guy named Billy at the end of September (as requested by Green Day). They tell him the story of 2020 they pretty much go down the line from a possible WWIII, to fires in Australia, everyone wearing masks during the pandemic, and they even throw in Kobe (😭still too soon). I’m not gonna bother putting links to those events, we all know what I am talking about because 2020 has been “the worst”.
However, it is the final lines that I want to highlight above others.
Here they are in English:
He’s sitting on the bed,
“I wish you’d never woken me up”
«Billy, if you think all of that disappears while you sleep,
the world remains the same»
Here’s the full translation of the song. And here’s the song (for those who don’t think German can sound beautiful and catchy). The point is: regardless of all that has happened in 2020, if you think this is the worst year ever, then you probably thought last year sucked too… and you’ll think 2021 will suck… and essentially you are looking for reasons to sit and complain.
Negatives into Positives
My apologies, I know that last part sounded quite negative.
Again, bitter old man typing over here🙋♂️.
Of course, now I’m seeing loads of celebrations about Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 US Elections. “Finally some good news in 2020!”… “Maybe this will be the turning point!” And suddenly the people who sat and complained have hope that one election of one man will change everything.
Don’t get me wrong. The bitter old man in me has some youth left in the tank, so I know that people had to mobilize to the booths in record numbers just to win this election.
But the irony of it all is that people also mobilized in the opposite direction as well (pro-Trump). And once they accept defeat they will regroup and plan a counter-attack so they can win the next “super-duper bowl”. That’s how I decided to call US elections because they are mostly a spectator sport. People get all passionate, argue, split into teams and block each other when they are tired of arguing, then show up vote, and watch the show. Then they either cheer or lament that the world is lost. But pretty soon we will just go back to Netflix watching and Amazon shopping until it’s time to tune in for the pre-season of the next super-duper bowl (p.s. I use lower case intentionally).
So in the end, where are the positives and where are the negatives? And why does it have to be binary either-or, win-lose, good-bad? Trust me, I have a full-fledged theory on this, but it’s not worth summarizing just yet because most people will just hear what they want to hear, and stop listening because they already decided what they wanted to say. So we have a major crisis of citizenship, my friends.
It’s not about liberal vs conservative. And it’s not about national vs international. It’s not even about black vs white because I have literally written about the flaws in this flawed mentality. The issue is precisely our binary logic. Our need to say this-or-that, not remembering the difference between an “inclusive or” and an “exclusive or”. In a nutshell, here’s the best example that I love giving:
Do you believe people good or evil?
Most people will choose sides between “good” or “evil”, yet there will also be some [fewer] that see this as a “y-no” question, so their answer will likely be “No, I think they are a mix of both” or “I think they are good and evil”.
So voilà, by throwing in a simple “or” I divided you into 4 camps.
(Trust me, you will not win if we play “divide and conquer”, I do this to myself constantly. Besides, I am tired of that game)
I’ve already gone long enough with this article, and the point was to say every year is what you make of it. If they get worse and worse, or if a year is progressively getting worse and worse. Then either you are sitting there watching, or you need to make some adjustments. And this applies regardless of whether you mean “my 2020” or “the world’s 2020”. Perhaps it’s those of us with the comfiest lives that can afford to say “my 2020 is fine, I’m just talking about 2020 in general” but if our year is going fine, shouldn’t we then lend a helping hand to make things better? Wouldn’t that make us good citizens in our community? You don’t have to see the entire world as your community (like I do), just mobilize towards a solution (not a leader, and not against something/someone), and help others do the same. Otherwise, as Das Lumpenpack sings: the world remains the same.