If 2020 was the first year we could remember, would we think of it as a “normal” year?
If we had no comparison, would we use it as a template for all subsequent years?
In this way, I can’t write about 2020 without context—as chaotic, as challenging, as unprecedented this year currently is and has been. As a person who grew up in a religious group fixated on a biblical apocalypse close-at-hand, this year brought me back to my childhood, when I saw that such an end-of-days scenario was actually a hoped-for fantasy for some and a frightful nightmare for others.
Now I have seen how a worldwide pandemic and divisive political figures can bring out the best and the worst in people: exemplary human decency and crass selfishness.
2020, the year I was proud to participate in protests against racism in support of Black Lives Matter, when I witnessed many people rise to help others and reach out to each other digitally during strict lockdowns.
2020, the same year teenagers screamed “Ching-Chong” at me, that fearful people crossed the street to avoid me or jumped away from me because they blamed any Asian-looking person for the virus.
2020, the year I feel even more solidarity with those who suffer social isolation and prejudice constantly.
2020, the year of a hard-won, fiercely contested US presidential election, when divisions seem even more entrenched than ever.
Our conflicting beliefs and fundamental disagreements may never get resolved. But speaking as a person of contradiction who has learned not only to live with it, but to thrive with it, I want to convey that it is possible to use pain and conflict in beneficial ways:
- If you feel unfairly treated, dehumanized or demonized by the “other side”, this is an opportunity to become more compassionate to those who have had this painful experience as well. And to ask yourself if you are dehumanizing or demonizing others too, especially people you don’t know very well or who can’t defend themselves.
- It is possible that a different perspective is not trying to destroy or diminish yours. It is possible that different standards, different beliefs and opinions can coexist peacefully, enriching everyone’s awareness and experience of life. (Within reason: see above #1.)
- I can still remember a time when only a few privileged editors with the same narrow views dominated the public conversation. The past five years has seen a tremendous profusion of marginalized voices emerging. At the same time, there are complaints about feeling muzzled by the oversensitivity of the pc crowd, or too much “wokeness”, or the “left tearing itself apart”. However, these so-called constraints are still relatively new. Most of all, they are pertinent challenges to those who have gone unchallenged for so long. These new voices have not had the opportunity to be a part of the discourse until now. True diversity is still relatively new. Please support and encourage those who historically have not had their voices heard.
- If reality does not meet your expectations or assumptions, this is actually an opportunity for growth—for gaining a better awareness of what the reality is versus the projections or delusions of the ego. Is something truly the “best” or just the thing you are used to? Is it truly an ultimate rule or a simply force of a habit?
- By all means, make up your own mind. Take control of your own story. A change that is forced is oppressive at worst and just a superficial guise of “progress” at best. There is no substitute for true change and this can only come from within.
This is my last post of the year. A year that has continuously compelled me to speak, even when I had planned on staying silent to focus on my upcoming debut novel. Yes, it’s finally coming! When all goes as planned, my next post will announce my new book!
Thank you all for your continued support! I wish you all the best for the rest of 2020, the coming New Year and beyond!