When we look back on 2020, how will we see it?
As a year when lawlessness took hold? Regardless of party, you probably will, but it won't be your own party you see as having any guilt. If you see nothing wrong with riots and looting (which are not the same as protesting), you're wrong. If you think that taking any weapon to a protest is anything but a threat and intimidation, you're wrong. And if you think it's perfectly OK to use the People's House as a backdrop for a political convention, you're wrong.
How about the year that conspiracy theories usurped reality? QAnon has put its sticky, disgusting fingers all over legitimate issues such as child sex trafficking, pulling in people who ordinarily would not believe that there was an effort to bring the age of consent down to 4 (there isn't, and they would realize that there would be a mention of it somewhere other than a Facebook screed) or that California legalized pedophilia (it hasn't, and the law at question simply has sentencing standards in use since 1944 regarding the sex-offender registry apply the same way to heterosexual and homosexual offenders).
But it's not just fake news. QAnon, a group classified by the FBI as "conspiracy-theory-driven domestic extremists" has been linked to violence and threats of violence, such as the Illinois woman arrested in April in New York City who attempted, in a car filled with knives, to reach a Navy hospital ship housing covid-19 patients. She had posted on Facebook about QAnon before the incident, and had also threatened to kill Joe Biden because of claims of sex trafficking. Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., had a gunman in 2016 who wanted to "investigate" child sex trafficking supposedly being done out of its nonexistent basement, and three years later, another QAnon follower started a fire there.
Will it be the year we finally fulfilled Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" vision? A look at photos of the Western wildfires shows eerie similarities between what was imagined all those years ago and what the landscape looks like now. For those of us with family in the areas most affected, there's a lot of worry for their safety (a month ago a cousin posted photos of ash on her car from a fire 29 miles away, and last week said it was still dark from the smoke at midmorning), but even in Arkansas we're not safe from its effects. NASA and NOAA images show that the smoke has traveled all the way here, and some have reported finding ash as well. With that plus hurricanes, blizzards in September and other weird weather, it's almost like Earth is trying to get back at us for not taking care of it.
Maybe it will be the year families remember fears of World War III starting as an appetizer to the worst seven-course dinner ever. You do remember that, right? You would think we wouldn't still be hungry, but the kitchen keeps sending stuff out, like covid-19 and riots.
Regardless of how most of us remember 2020, I think the T-shirt I saw giving the year a one-star review says it best: "Very bad, would not recommend."
Here's what I would love to remember 2020 for; however, as a realist, I'm not expecting much.
Let it be the year we throw off the idea that elected public service is a win-or-lose game. In the scenario we're living now, we're all the losers because we've eschewed our humanity for the sake of the win. It would be wonderful if those we elect got back to the idea of serving all their constituents and the greater good.
Let it be the year we stop politicizing everything and finally embrace sanity again. Let us do what our forebears did and follow the guidelines set for us rather than intentionally flout them to prove devotion to a political ideology. Maybe if we do these small things that do not infringe on our constitutional rights, we can get out of isolation sooner and things can get back to normal, or at least 2019 normal.
Let it be the year that we start seeing the shades of gray that are all around us and understand that few issues are black and white, whether it's abortion, civil rights abuses, protests or whatever hot-button issue is being used to scare you into voting a certain way. Forget all that and actually pay attention to candidates, what they say, what they've done, and what they say they want to do. Don't listen to the talking points from campaigns; examine the platforms and proposals and decide if you can agree with a clear conscience.
Let it be the year we actually think before posting on social media and that we realize that Facebook and Twitter are not news sources. Sticking to only those sources with which you agree does not make you a good news consumer. Opinion isn't news, though it may be based on news. For God's sake, fact-check.
And reboot that sense of humor while you're at it, please. If the best you have is a juvenile insult, do better. At least try a pun.
Most of all, let it be the year that actually ends on Jan. 1, 2021. I don't think most of us could take another 2020.
Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.