The Roaring Twenties - Everything Has Changed
2020 will forever be the year we tell stories of. The time we couldn’t leave the house for months and weren’t allowed within a two metre radius of our loved ones. The time our Saturday night’s out took place in our pajamas over Zoom. The time we stood on our doorsteps and clapped every Thursday at 8.00PM and the time we cut up old clothes to make masks that we’d proceed to proudly wear round Sainsbury’s as we obediently followed the arrows of the one way system. It’s definitely not the image I had in mind when I raised my glass at midnight and shouted HAPPY NEW YEAR, full of hope and excitement for the so called roaring twenties. They started with a roar alright, but I'm not sure any of us knew quite how mighty it would be.
Perhaps everything that has happened this year, is and will forever be viewed in a harsher, more dramatic light due to the giant and all consuming shadow cast over us all by the global pandemic. But COVID aside, the worldwide disasters, unrest and tragedies have been continuous. I will not sit here and tell you that everything happens for a reason and that the good outweighs the bad. People have lost loved ones, jobs, home and their sanity, who am I to tell you to find the silver lining. But if we take a wider, global view perhaps we can look at this not as the year of the global pandemic but as the year of change. Be in good, be in bad. The world as we know it is different. Everything has changed.
At the start of 2020, BC (before CoronaVirus) the global news was still very much dominated by the ongoing battle to prevent climate change with Greta Thunberg at the forefront. In September 2019 she addressed the world at the UN climate conference in New York, which was followed by a worldwide campaign of protests and marches all led by a 17 year old girl from Sweden. Needless to say, the fight for the environment has become overshadowed by the fight for humans. During the peak of lockdown it was reported that certain environments were thriving due to a lack of human presence. Cities were cleaner, oceans were less polluted and air admissions were significantly lower. But it would appear that our concern for the plant has been overlooked as we now see a massive rise in single use plastics and disposable equipment. Much to the disarray of environmental activists, the fight for the people has taken precedence over the planet and only time will reveal the damage done.
In February, social media was dominated by the tragic death of TV presenter Caroline Flack after she took her own life. Her death sparked a surge in suicide awareness and people speaking out about bullying, the hashtag #bekind being used in support for Caroline and the movement. The fight to make mental health more recognized, accepted and talked about is ongoing but February saw a surge of hopefuls taking to social media to tell stories, share information and spread the word.- be kind.
We follow on from this pattern of something terrible having to happen to evoke change. At the end of February Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstien was finally found guilty of several acts of sexual harassment and rape and sentence to 25 years in prison. It was a long awaited sentencing with the #metoo movement starting in 2017 causing celebrities and women all over the world to speak out about their experiences and declare that #timeisup. It took three years for the victim of Harvey Weinstien to get justice but 2020 finally saw a victory for women and a movement for change in the industry.
'Any change, be it even the smallest step forward, is cause, not yet for celebration but for recognition.'
Come May the fight has moved from equality in sex to equality in race. On the 25th of May a black man was killed by white police officers as a result of kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes. George Floyd was the start of a long awaited fight to eradicate racism in the police force. The black lives matter movement grew to encompass all forms of racism- in the arts, the media, politics, education and our day to day lives. A fight that for many has consumed their whole lives, was joined by people of all generations and all cultural backgrounds. I would love to say that there has been great change as a result but the fight for racial equality is very much ongoing and still pressingly necessary. But any change, be it even the smallest step forward, is cause, not yet for celebration but for recognition.
November finally saw the long awaited victory of the democrats in America as Joe Biden and the first ever black female vice president claimed their titles. Four years people have waited for this moment. This is perhaps the biggest global change of all this year, and a victory the world really needed right now.
'We have been rendered powerless to so many things this year that we have chosen to fight the battles we can.'
Amongst these movements for change, be it #metoo #bekind or #BLM, 2020 has been the year of speaking up and speaking out. Call it coincidence or call it perspective, but the fact that all this has happened in the mists of a global pandemic should be recognized. There is so much of life that is out of our control. A seemingly insignificant virus that started half away across the world has caused a global outbreak bringing our country, and most of the world, to a complete halt. Even the most powerful of scientists and politicians have not been able to protect us, our country, or themselves from the virus. Perhaps it is this that has given us perspective. We have been rendered powerless to so many things this year that we have chosen to fight the battles we can.
If we were to sum up 2020 in one word let it not be virus or pandemic, let it be change. Not all change is good, far from it, but change has happened and with the bad has come the good. I for one hope that we can remember the acts of bravery, the patriotism, the movements for change, the protests, the campaigns and the gratitude. Let us not forget the perspective we have gained and the battles we have fought. We will all come out of this year stronger. (Perhaps a little heavier too thanks to all those lockdown banana breads.)
2020 will definitely be a year that none of us forget.