Descriptions of the Nondescript

2020 Not as a Curse

Most humans on Earth will agree that the year 2020 was one of the worst in memory. In some ways it was like a world war: casualty count, political propaganda and unrest, economic instability, fear, and --- most of all --- a shaking up of our complacent assumptions.

My family and I have all been healthy, maintained our lifestyle pretty well despite the economic turmoil, and have weathered the forced restrictions on our movements without much change. Since my wife and I had been working from home most of the time anyway it wasn't a huge change.

Of course I haven't been traveling, despite the fact that my traditionally frequent destinations of Shanghai and Taipei are probably some of the safest cities in the world to visit. Safe for me, at least. The Chinese and Taiwanese governments and their citizens would probably eye me very suspiciously as a source of pandemic contagion based on wasteland of disease and death that is my point of origin here in the United States of "Muh freedom".

I think the shaking up of our complacency is one of the most important effects of this period in all our lives. We have discovered that our engagement in politics is actually required to maintain the continued safety and freedom we have come to enjoy as Americans. In fact, it's increasingly clear to the rest of the world how much of a role American influence has had since it has been disrupted during the four years of the Trump administration and the several years before that in which the bodies of legislature in our national government were effectively hamstrung by adamant schmism and gamesmanship. Lost during this period were the compromise, discussion, and creativity that traditionally arose from the shared goals of governing our nation for the good of all its citizens.

Quite some number of good things that will result from this.

Nations whose governments are modeled on the US democracy --- of which Taiwan is a primary example --- can learn from our mistakes. Parliamentary style democracies are no less prone to these sorts of problems, so presumably most of Europe and much of Asia can benefit from our instructive plight.

Ironically, much of the power exerted upon our politics came from manipulation of our traditional weaknesses --- festering sores we as a society have ignored for far too long: racism, religious intolerance and exclusion, and the tilted playing field for opportunity and wealth within our economic and educational systems. This is now visible as irony because the exertion of that power has exposed these sores in explicit detail to everyone who chooses not look away. White person's privilege is now visible to the white people in ways they never had to see before. As many people of color and minority ethnicity and religion will say, the situation for them isn't different, but the visibility of that situation to white people has finally been achieved in a way that the harsh reality must be accepted as real.

Ask a fish about water. Ask a white wealthy person about privilege. It's the same.

The very tumult of this pivotal year will eventually help to show us the way forward, providing ways to heal some of our neglected societal diseases by revealing them to those who must change to begin that healing.

At least we can hope this will be the case. We have an opportunity that is, in fact, singular and fleeting. We need to grasp the reins of our runaway society and steer it in a direction suitable for our children and their future. For all of them --- since that is how most already perceive their society.