An ode to 2020

Sophie Oehler, Staff Writer

I learned a new word today.

 “Flop era” is the fun, quirky way of saying that your life is currently going nowhere and you feel as though no matter the circumstance, you end up failing in some way shape or form. In essence, you are “flopping,” as if your life is a car dealership’s blow up puppet that has slowly had all the air let out of it. 

One could say that 2020 was America’s “flop era.” 

We narrowly escaped World War Three, suffered yet another attack from police brutality and white supremacy, and watched our leader slip further past whatever insanity we had once thought him capable of— all while struggling to survive the worst international health crisis in modern history. 

2020 was awful, there’s no question about it. I’m embarrassed to say I too choked up when the ball dropped on the socially distanced crowd at Times Square, thrilled that we had finally left another dumpster fire of a year behind. 

But just because we drowned our memories of 2020 in our champagne toasts doesn’t mean that the nightmares we survived are over. And though we have begun a new year with a new leader and a new vaccine, 2021 is not guaranteed to be a walk in the park. 

New years should serve as a milestone of another year in the bag, and little else. It is not the fresh start that many of us envision it to be. 

In truth, little changes from year to year beyond the date, and our workout regiments for the first few months, and then that too slips back to where it was before. 

But white supremacy doesn’t disappear after the ball drops and reappear sometime in mid-March. Climate change isn’t reborn on Jan. 1, nor does it mature by the beginning of summer. 

Much of the stresses of 2020 have been ongoing for decades, centuries even. We’re just finally paying the price for ignoring it for so long. 

We should have heard the shouts from the Black Lives Matter protests well before the death of Michael Brown back in 2014. We should have smelled the smoke from the California wildfires before the first spark. 

We have been a reactionary society for so long, which has always confused me. We knew that the tragedies that plagued the past year were looming. 

We have seen what causes these horrors, and what happens following them, and yet we cannot predict them before they happen.

Climate change, white supremacy and a political divide large enough to rival the Mid-Atlantic ridge are not new beasts. 

So then why do we act shocked and surprised every time they raise their ugly heads each year? 

Why do we then blame the system, or corrupt politicians, or better yet the year—which in the end is a set of numbers—what harm can it really do? 

The true villain of 2020 was humans. 

We are the ones who have put off responding to climate change until the last minute. We are the ones who have opened the doors for racism, homophobia and sexism. Then it was people who played dumb when given the oppurtunity to escort all of them out. 

We are the ones who can’t seem to take accountability for the mess we’ve created, and then take the initiative to clean it up. 

2021 is well underway. 

We’ve already seen an attempted coup and a second impeachment. If we want to make 2021 the glow up, stress free, hot girl summer of a year that all of us have been begging the universe for, we all need to change the way we look at the new year. 

When I was younger I played violin. I always wanted to be first chair in the orchestra because I wanted to be the one to lead tuning before every concert. My mother told me that if I wanted to be first violin, I would have to work hard and practice. 

I didn’t, because practicing everyday for four hours seemed like a lot of work, and I had more exciting things to do. As a consequence, I sat in the middle row for the vast majority of my orchestral career. 

Don’t let this year be the one to get away. Practice good habits and goodness will find you. 

Start by changing your new year’s resolution. 

Instead of vowing to commit to the newest fad diet, try to actually crack down on composting and recycling, or research eco-friendly diets. In addition to promising to read more, include more POC authors in your bookshelf, or better yet, research ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Learn to be a contributing member of society. Learn that your actions have consequences. Learn that your non-actions have consequences. 

The next year, and certainly every year following, hangs in the balance.