2021 Probably Won’t Be Any Better

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It’s no secret that 2020 has been shit, almost incredibly so.

Whether it’s the respiratory virus pandemic, a deteriorating climate or volatile political relations, this year has been so obscenely absurd that when the next round of terrible news arrives, you may find yourself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

Truth is, when there’s so much bad news, terrible things that previously would have caused the familiar feeling of anxiety to rush back into the pit of your stomach become quite hilarious. In fact, when health secretary Matt Hancock recently announced in a government briefing that not only did we have a mutant, more contagious strain of COVID-19 doing the rounds, not only was the South East going into the newly-invented Tier 4 level of restrictions but now we also had cases of the South African variant, it was nearly enough to make me succumb to hysterical laughter. Why? Because it was so bad it was funny.

2020 has been a hysterically bad year, but the truth is that what made 2020 bad isn’t going to magically go away when the clock strikes midnight on the first of January, 2021.

It’s not going to be a fresh start and I’m not sure many of us will have the fresh-faced motivation of the new year. Many of us are tired of everything. Politicians, not seeing friends, the world… And even though 2021 offers new opportunities and a new outlook, the same factors remain:

  • In America, Republicans are still brain-washed and willing to support Trump’s delusion, dysfunction and lies
  • Despite the joy of someone being elected who isn’t Trump, Joe Biden is still… Joe Biden. At a time when we need a progressive and someone willing to take the absolutely gargantuan action required to tackle the breakdown of our climate, we have a 78-year-old centrist. Maybe Biden will be radical in terms of climate policy and maybe he’ll be remembered as one of the greats, but his political action so far suggests not. Will Biden unite America, or will he be another filler president until someone different comes along?
  • Our climate is breaking down at a dramatic rate. Every extreme weather event referred to as “once in a lifetime” or “never seen before” keeps on happening again and again, and will keep happening until we dig ourselves out of the toxic mess. 38°C in Siberia? Terrifying wildfires? The most active hurricane season on record? The events that revealing climate breakdown to be an existential threat to our existence are falling on deaf ears in parliaments worldwide. Not many care, and when there’s a stream of constant bad news, it’s disgustingly hard to muster a fuck to give
  • Whilst our politicians are willing to spend hours arguing over aspects of law typically inconsequential to daily lives of many, things that actually can positively affect the masses are being willfully ignored in many countries. There’s often not enough money for universal basic income, the restructuring and additional training of law enforcement, the funding of welfare programs… but wars, nuclear weapons programs and further tax cuts or potential tax loopholes for the ultra-rich? Sure!
  • The pandemic isn’t magically going to stop, even though we’ve got a vaccine. For quite a few of us, we’ll be vaccinated in 2021- this is obviously fantastic news. But what does it mean for those in lower income countries? The truth is, without widespread vaccination in every single country (regardless of if they can afford to vaccinate their population or not), we all remain vulnerable. If COVID-19 continues to circulate in countries unable to vaccinate their populations, the potential for new mutations that many undermine the effectiveness of vaccines globally rises- however, a significant concern remains that once richer countries have rolled out widespread vaccination for their population and Covid’s ability to wreak chaos becomes far greater, poorer countries will be forgotten about and left to battle COVID-19 resurgences alone

It isn’t all bad news, though. Many of us want to see changes to the systems that permeate through society, such as the influence that the ultra-rich has on our politics through things like powerful lobbying groups. But the question is ‘how?’. How can we create change in a society where the political systems are so rigidly controlled by the 1%? How can we force politicians to take the necessary, extreme action required to somewhat numb the impact of climate change?

After surviving the perils of 2020, we need to go into 2021 with the understanding that it’ll probably still be quite shit, but that there’s room for improvement. So, what can we do in 2021 to help make a positive change to the things around us?

  1. Acknowledge that we’re still here. After a year of isolation, worry, stress and strain, we made it. In 2021, who gives a fuck if you dye your hair orange, go out in your pyjamas or ask someone out who you’ve liked for several years? We’re all on a big floating rock in space in an extremely volatile society. 2021 should be a year of definitively trying to not give a fuck- rather hypocritically, as someone with social anxiety I know I care far too much about stupid things I really shouldn’t be overthinking for several hours. But 2021 is a year we should all push our own boundaries, no matter how scary it is or how much support it takes. Our days are finite, both as humans and as a species, but we’ve survived 2020 and we’re capable of more than we know
  2. If you can, vote for people who give a fuck. Look up their voting records and their stance on things that matter to you- even if you only have the time to do this for a few minutes, it’s worth it. Vote for people whose ideas excite you and encourage those around you to do the same. The predominant feeling for many of us this year is powerless; participating in your local democracy to elect people who will make things in your region or country less shit is a way to take back a part of your power, even if it’s only by a small amount
  3. If you’re in the financial position to be able to, vote with your money. This isn't for everyone as not everyone can afford to shop for ethical or sustainable items and not everyone has the time for deep research into what you’re buying. But if you’re in the position to, consider who you give money to. The feeling that you’re actually doing something is worth it
  4. Sign up for organ and blood donation. If you’re in the position to be able to give blood as your body can readily make more at no detriment to your health, then sign up to donate. Donating might not be very fun, but the knowledge that your blood will have been used to save someone’s life is pretty cool. If you’ve had COVID-19, recovered and can donate plasma, then please do
  5. Sign petitions and keep well informed about stuff you care about. I know, it’s easy to dismiss petitions as literally doing nothing- I know I’ve felt this way before too. However, petitions actually sometimes result in positive things happening and, on the off chance your signature helps, you may as well
  6. Take care of yourself. Yet again, this isn’t something all of us are in the position to do. However, self care doesn’t have to require spending money or extreme consistency, and an act of self care in the precarious times we live in can be something as simple as going to sleep twenty minutes earlier, drinking a few extra glasses of water or trying to cut down on your doom scrolling. Small things add up over time and at the end of the day, the only thing we ever properly have in life is ourselves

Here’s to a year that’ll probably also be bad, but hopefully a little bit less.

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