Looking forward to 2021

As anticipating eyes watch clocks, fireworks ready to set ablaze, and cheers yet to be let out, the new year rolls in as the Earth completes its orbit around the sun. 

Last year was an unprecedented year, filled with catastrophe left and right, passing by in a blink yet simultaneously feeling like a millennium. The start of the decade hit us right off the bat with a pandemic, fires, loss, and fear. Normalcy was lost along the way as we adapted to these unexpected and hard-hitting changes, the year stretching on until it didn’t. 

Thankfully, the new year has finally emerged. So, the question lingers: what will 2021 bring us?

One of the first major changes that we will see is the new presidency. President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 US presidential election, is set to be sworn in as the 46th president on January 20. Not only that, but Kamala Harris will serve alongside Biden as the first woman vice president in US history.

Climate change in 2020 was a big deal as we were faced with record-setting wildfires in places like Australia, the west coast of the US, Brazil, Siberia and a record-breaking hurricane season in the Atlantic. It’s only bound to get worse if no attempt for change is implemented. Extreme weather, droughts, wildfires, ice melting, high temperatures, carbon emissions, you name it – Biden’s pledge to let the US rejoin the Paris Agreement may be helpful in the global effort to fight against climate change.

Of course and most obviously, there is the COVID-19 pandemic to be worrying about. The arrival of a new year does not eliminate this virus, does not mean that it will be leaving our hands anytime soon. The wonder is if this pandemic will get better or worse, and everyone’s hope for it to get better is what has the world crossing its fingers as we step into 2021. There is an intense, collective type of desperation for an improvement as we witness the fall and rise of never-ending spikes.

People are still struggling to this day to follow the basic rules and guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even a year into this pandemic, in some areas more so than others. It is inevitable that our consequences will continue to bleed into the new year whether we like it or not. 

The truth is, the new year has no real significance in terms of change because there is no real close or opening to a period of time. People give it meaning despite that, make this unique moment something to celebrate, and maybe that is enough to give a surge of hope and inspire change.

And the change is already happening, as seen with the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, which will help protect and prevent you from getting COVID-19. According to the CDC, the vaccine is limited at the moment and will first go to healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities, followed by frontline essential workers, people aged 75 and older, and so on.

Unfortunately, there have also been new COVID-19 variants emerging as the virus goes through mutation. According to the CDC, there have been many variants circulating globally in places like the UK, the US, Canada, South Africa, and Nigeria. These variants spread more quickly and easily, but there is no evidence of it causing more severe illness. Public health agencies are working on learning more about these variants in order to control them.

With all these changes in mind, the want to return to what was “normal” is strong for most people, “normal” being life before the pandemic started. However, maybe some of what was “normal” is what pushed us into this mess in the first place. Lack of proper sanitization, being too close and too crowded against one another, too much contact, ignoring certain injustices, disregarding the threat of the climate, etc. This doesn’t mean we have to strictly keep life the way it is now, but instead use what we’ve learned and apply it in ways we might need it for the future. 

The real nightmare is the large number of people not learning from the disaster that was 2020, politically or socially, and are still choosing to stay ignorant and careless. The new year will definitely be different from 2020 just as every year differs from each other – again, it’s whether it will be better or worse.

Hopefully, with the aspiration and purpose that a new year brings, we can use that to make it better. It may be difficult to feel anything but dread after experiencing a year of hardship, but with the passage of time perhaps we will one day look around and realize that we made it through.

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