fbpx

Will 2020 Go Down as The Longest Year?

Will we ever see another year like 2020? Probably not in our lifetimes.
[additional-authors]
June 14, 2020

I recently read a post on Twitter that mused if years from now, scholars will be asked, “Which quarter of 2020 do you specialize in?”

As the editors of The Dispatch wrote last week, “We’ve lived through three major events that would be the defining story of any normal decade, and we’re only six months into the first year of the 2020s.”

It’s not hyperbole to wonder if we’ll ever see another year like 2020.

We kicked off the year with the impeachment of a U.S. president in the House of Representatives — something that occurs about once a century.

Then, we were invaded by a lethal virus that shut down most of the planet, already has killed nearly 500,000 people, paralyzed economies and is still wreaking havoc.

While we were reeling from the pandemic, a cruel act of police violence against a black man set off what The Washington Post called “the broadest protest movement in American history.”

And lest we forget, we have a presidential election coming up in November that many consider the most consequential of our times.

Epic on top of epic on top of epic. When do we catch our breath?

What adds even more tension is that the crises are deep and overlapping. The ongoing pandemic, the protest movement and the presidential elections are entrenched stories with multiple sub-stories that keep growing.

In journalism, we’re supposed to crave these epic stories. They make us feel alive, needed. The eyes of the world are upon us. It’s our time to shine.

That is still mostly true. I haven’t had a boring day in months. I’ve recorded 58 “Pandemic Times” episodes on my morning podcast and at no time felt as if there wasn’t much to say.

The Journal website has been a popcorn machine of news and commentary as we’ve worked to stay ahead of events. We’ve covered the crises and sub-crises from endless angles.

Even for news junkies, though, the furious pace of 2020 can take its toll. The exhilaration is there, but so is the emotional exhaustion.

Even for news junkies, the furious pace of 2020 can take its toll. The exhilaration is there, but so is the emotional exhaustion.

2020 is the year we all became overwhelmed.

In the United States, more than 115,000 people already have lost their lives to the coronavirus and millions have lost their livelihoods. We’ve had funerals and shivah services on Zoom. We’ve been forced to physically separate from those we love. With all the silver linings and blessings in disguise, the reality is that this has been a year of high and constant anxiety.

The protest movement has intensified everything. The horrific death of George Floyd triggered an outpouring of outrage that I’ve rarely seen. Millions have ignored social distance guidelines to march shoulder to shoulder to protest racism, police violence and racial inequalities.

There’s a revolutionary fervor in the air.

But while the protests have been unifying in some ways, they’ve been divisive in others. People are unified behind the goal of eliminating racism but divided over how to get there. We’re divided over charged issues such as “defund the police” and what the idea actually means. We’re even divided over whether there’s still room for debate on certain issues. Many are now fearful of saying “the wrong thing” lest they get cancelled or publicly shamed.

The point is this: Regardless of where you stand on any issue, with elections looming, the intensity will only increase as the year continues. The fervor will increase, the divisions will increase, the confusion will increase. Meanwhile, the media and digital warriors on social media will feast on the chaos.

I’m not by nature an alarmist. But when I hear smart commentators say we’re in the midst of a new kind of “civil war,” it’s hard to dismiss. It’s as if we’re swirling inside a perfect storm of societal factors designed to maximize anger, animosity and hysteria.

It’s as if we’re swirling inside a perfect storm of social factors designed to maximize anger, animosity and hysteria.

But yes, there’s also good news: We’re not obligated to emulate the chaos and division we see around us. In fact, we can do the opposite. If we’re sick of the hysteria, we can focus on solutions. If we’re sick of the divisions, we can focus on listening and empathy. And if we’re exhausted by trying to change the world, we can change our own little worlds.

So, here’s my suggestion: However you feel about the controversial issues convulsing us, choose the path that brings you inner peace and dignity, that seeks justice without anger or animosity, and that deepens and enriches your relationships.

If there’s one good thing about a very long year, it gives us plenty of time to think about making the right choices.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Beauty Without Borders

I was amused by this scene of an elderly, ultra-Orthodox couple enjoying a coffee while a sensual French song came on. Do they have any idea what this song is about? I wondered.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.