By Ava Aschettino
To be blunt, 2020 was an awful year. The lives of nearly everyone were touched by chaos and heartbreak. People across the globe were forced indoors for months, separated from their family and friends. The economy tanked, jobs were lost, businesses shut, and spirits stifled. While unappealing to millions, in order to move forward, we must reminisce on the events that made 2020 the most infamous year in modern history.
Nearly 84 million people across the map were infected by what many still choose to call the ‘novel’ Coronavirus. The virus stole over 1.8 million people in 2020. This number will continue to rise into 2021 as an increasingly alarming number of individuals abandon any and all safety protocols because they are “done” with this pandemic. While there are multiple vaccines on the horizon that have begun to be distributed, it will take months, perhaps even years, for the entire world to receive not one, but two injections. On top of this, millions have lost their jobs and businesses as the economy tanked due to state-mandated lockdowns and reopening protocols. This pandemic separated families and friends as millions relied on platforms like Zoom to keep any ties intact. As we move into 2021, the pandemic is expected to seep into much of the new year.
In the beginning of 2020, wildfires raged across Australia. These fires ravaged the continent from July 2019 to early March 2020, and they stole thirty lives along with the lives of millions of wildlife in the area. They also destroyed 42,000 square miles (27 million acres) of land. Additionally, California and the surrounding West Coast states faced a surge of fires throughout 2020. More than 8,200 fires in the area consumed over 4 million square acres of land, a record high number.
Black Lives Matter Movement
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other defenseless black citizens were unjustly murdered by police officers on film, sparking a flood of mostly peaceful protests worldwide. These deaths reignited the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which called for changes such as defunding and reforming the policing system in the United States. “Blue Life” supporters (those who stood in support of the police) met the movement with opposition and organized their own counter protests. Despite the peaceful nature of most of these protests, some turned violent on both sides. Stores were burned and looted, tear gas was deployed, and countless protestors were arrested. Despite all the action taken in the summer months of 2020, there has been little response from the government and policing systems across the country, causing many to lose faith in the institutions that were supposed to protect them.
U.S. Election of 2020
One of history’s most chaotic U.S. presidential elections, the Election of 2020, left just about everyone at their wit’s end. Incumbent President Donald Trump faced off against former Vice President Joseph ‘Joe’ Biden. Across the country, those of opposing beliefs met one another with hostility. After election night, the families on both ends of the political spectrum were glued to their televisions for days, slowly witnessing millions of mail-in ballots add to the count. On the Saturday after Tuesday’s Election Day, Joe Biden was announced the victor of the 2020 election, making Donald Trump the first president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to be a one-term president. However, President Trump did not accept defeat, filing multiple lawsuits in contested states, with each being thrown out, one after the other. As President Trump lied to his supporters, claiming the election was “stolen,” President-elect Biden was reconfirmed as the true President-elect. As 2020 drew to an end, and Republician officials grew tired of President Trump’s lies, the president continued to dispute the results of the election, toying with American democracy.
Early into the new year, President Trump incited a violent riot among his supporters at Capitol Hill. While many were protesting outside the walls of the Capitol, others were not. Hundreds of Trump supporters infiltrated the capitol building, disrupting the electoral confirmation of the election. Vice President Pence and congressional officials were rushed into lockdown as President Trump’s supporters stormed the capitol. It is unclear why there was such a lack of security and action from the policing system on a high alert day. This was the first time the Capitol has been breached since 1814. After Vice President Pence, President-elect Joe Biden, and others condemned the actions on Capitol Hill that day, President Trump’s delayed response was simply unacceptable. His message to the public included his continued denial of election results, a weak request for his supporters to “go home,” and even a, “we love you.” The video was removed from Twitter and Facebook as the president is now temporarily banned from both platforms. As for the aftermath of the infiltration, there were a few casualties, many injuries, and extensive property damage to the Capitol.
What occured on January 6th was a national embarrassment. President Trump and his supporters made a mockery out of the American system of Democracy that our country prides itself on. Arrests are still ongoing at this time.
With 2020 coming to an end, people have begun to embrace the idea of a fresh start in 2021. They claim that in order to do this, we must leave 2020 behind. I agree... sort of. We simply cannot erase 2020. It may be tempting to tune out the negatives of the past year and try to forget the pain. However, from the bad, we can learn. If 2020 was such a terrible year (which it most definitely was), we must embrace it in its entirety and grow. That's why we learn history. It gives us the opportunity to avoid the mistakes of our past. So, we simply cannot forget 2020 if we do not want another year like it. In order to move forward, we must look back, reflect, and educate ourselves on what needs to change.