The general sentiment in the past few days of leave 2020 in the trash where it belongs has had me chuckling. The countless ads, conglomerates, media, celebrities, government officials are all saying the same thing: Be optimistic! We’re going to be okay! Aren’t you glad! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Everything’s going to be a-okay!
Don’t get me wrong. We hear this every December. Your year is coming up. You’ll find love, become a billionaire, lose those last 20–50 lbs, leave your worries behind. Same old drivel. Same old blah-blah-blah. Maybe I’m more cynical than I thought, but around June, I went “well, if people don’t get what I’ve been saying for the past decade in this year, they’re never going to get it.” All we had to do in 2020 was survive.
1.5 billion people died from Covid. Millions more infected. Staggering rates of unemployment. Racism of all sorts. Largest civil rights movement in decades. Genocide within our borders. Heartwrenching stories from teachers, doctors, nurses, small businesses, you name it. All but the extremely wealthy were wrecked this year, and we all watched it unfold from our isolated pockets. The seldom-spoken thought out of a collective superstition and bated breath was 2021 will be better. It has to be.
On the eve of a new year, I invite you to ask yourself the question why. Why would 2021 be better? Sure, we’re switching administrations from outright fascism back to neoliberalism and politely ignoring that system broke people and wore down the country to the point that fascism seemed better, but I digress. Vaccines are coming, but they’re still quite a while away for the people like me and you. When it comes down to it, we haven’t fixed any of those problems above. Why would our year be better?
Asking ourselves why would our year be better seems pessimistic but only since it is a realistic question. We don’t tend to ask questions like this because pessimism is closely related to critical thinking. Critical thinking isn’t polite in our society.
Pessimism leads me to other ‘have’ questions: Have we made any significant strides in reimagining our society? Our government? Have we reevaluated…