Curtain Raiser

The Year We Cannot Forget, Colltalers

If you’re neither a billionaire nor had a lucky break in 2020, chances are you’re happy this year is finally (almost) over. Also, because it’s not hard to feel grateful for having pulled through while so many did not. For it’s Ok to be thankful amid tragedy but it feels better knowing we did make a difference.
Yes, there’s been Covid and the 1.6 million-plus lives it took with it, including over 300,000 Americans. There’s the brutal reality of millions going to bed hungry every day. The scourge of climate emergency and injustice of racism and rising femicide. There was Trump. And yet, we’re still breathing.
Naturally, most of us would like this moment to be a celebration of what humanity has done so well, but we’re at loss for words; so many of us stepped up to the plate and saved lives, showed compassion, risked life and limb, stood on bullets’ way to speak and protect those whose voices were silenced.
Their sacrifice has countered the horror of having a president who lied, mocked, denied, chastised, and ultimately, ignored the pleas of his own citizens at their most vulnerable time. In the end, it didn’t matter whether Trump’s deceived his own supporters or tried to disenfranchise dissenting Americans; everything he’s done in office was to advance his own cause and at times, that of his family and friends. For that, there must be no redemption possible.
We also didn’t want the year to end so badly to Black people, killed mercilessly by a truculent police establishment. We wished for better things to happen to people of color, asylum seekers, or the poor all over, freezing and dying in cold prisons, forced to be contaminated, slated to be executed no matter what, but all our wishing were only that, wishes. We wanted the election to be a landslide which was not but that small miracle we’ll keep.
No one deserved to have a politician so corrupt, so insensitive to the pain of ordinary citizens, so in synch with the interests of the wealthy few like him, but here we are: a reelected Mitch McConnell is still the Senate leader burying every relief legislation designed to alleviate people’s suffering. He may lose his main job but will still have plenty, make no mistake. For many, though, his actions cost more than they’ll ever get it back: their lives.
Of course, we’d want to leave this year with democracy flourishing everywhere, not under attack in so many countries. The turnout at U.S. elections has finally increased, but one too many Americans still did not show up to vote. That there wouldn’t be so many journalists threatened or killed all over. Or that lawsuits and public pressure were enough to break up those tax-free behemoth corporations for good, but all that will have to wait for now.
It’s unsettling to realize that the era of hacking of arsenals and public utilities by rogue states or deranged ego-trips may be upon us and we can do little to avoid it. It’s disturbing to see the Democratic Party already forgetting those who kept it in contention, or President Joe Biden, like his former boss, set to waste his mandate trying to ‘reach across the aisle‘ to an opposition that tried to steal his victory and whose agenda is to sabotage his every move.
It’s in fact disheartening to know that so many would-be despots, who cheated and persecuted their own people, still enjoy a certain level of popularity and support. Be it Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Russia’s Putin, the U.K.’s Johnson, China’s Xi, India’s Modi, Israel’s Netanyahu, Turkey’s Erdoğan, North Korea’s Kim, Belarus’ Lukashenko, let us know when to stop, Hungary’s Orbán, so many others, they are all fine and kicking and ready to do so more damage.
It wasn’t among anyone’s wishes to have this year to be tied for the hottest ever. Or that carbon emissions would be on the rise. That we’re closer than ever to a nuclear event and no one is talking about that. That deadly drones of all sizes are now popular by waging-war nations, and that daily death and bombings and refugees in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, the Gaza Strip, Syria, Nigeria, and 14 other African countries, will most likely remain as it is.
Despite being thoroughly beaten, the Lame Duck still raised over $200 million under the false premises of fighting ‘election fraud.’ But Congress, which approved his trillion-dollar tax cuts to the rich and corporations, and once more to companies profiting from the pandemic, can’t come up with a relief that’d include a one-time, miserable $1.200 for those who lost jobs and ability to have an income. And nothing for those who labor outside the system.
Yes, definitely 2020 could’ve been better in all senses. Instead, we mourn those we’ve lost, the heroes who went so others could live, the unsung and unseen hands and minds that helped us quarantine while they braved the virus and the elements to show up to work. Our eternal gratitude goes to them.
Today is the winter Solstice and also the peak of a rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the sky. It’s the shortest day in the North Hemisphere and the longest in the Global South. For all we care, the year could end today, and 2021 could get on with its business a bit earlier than usual. But it is what it is: we must thank our lucky stars and wish each other a better time on this Earth while we take a break. Happy Holidays and New Year, friends. WC

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