Reflecting back on 2020 – and looking forward

By M. Hill, Deputy Head Boy

2020 was unlike any other in our lifetimes. The collective struggle of our society in fighting a constant battle has been a new experience for the all of us. With protests in Hong Kong, devastating wildfires in Australia, wars, volcanic eruptions, oil leaks in Ambarnaya, a catalogue of racial injustices including the murder of George Floyd, a massive explosion in Lebanon, the deaths of many, many innocent people, multiple floods and earthquakes, the rise of COVID-19 and much more. No wonder we felt so tired and overwhelmed. 

2020 was truly a year to remember. 

In spite of this overwhelming madness, there have been a rather large amount of positives things that have happened throughout the year. 

Although it isn’t really apparent, our society has taken a huge step forwards in its approach to equality, acceptance and respect. With some ‘haters’ still standing tall, trying their best to force their outdated opinions on others, many of us have risen together to fight back and ensure we all feel proud to be who we truly are. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Hey! It’s 2020 bro, you can’t be saying that any more” (or similar) many times. Although a simple comment, it reflects on how much our society has begun to accept those who don’t conform to the old normalisations and expectations. That, is a huge step forward and is something to be proud of. Alongside this, I’d like to draw your attention to just a few of the many positive things that have happened over the course of 2020, and share with you a valuable reflection on them as a whole. 

Polio was officially eradicated on the African continent

On 25th August, with the help of the WHO, Rotary International, CDC, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gave, the Vaccine Alliance, Africa was deemed Polio-free after the last confirmed case was recorded in 2016 in Nigeria. This virus has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands, and to see its eradication in Africa is wonderful.

Dogs trained to protect wildlife have saved 45 rhinos from poachers in South Africa

In March, the Southern African Wildlife College and Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance had used various beagles and bloodhounds to track down poachers in South Africa. Over the last decade, 9442 African rhinos have been lost to poaching, and with this extraordinary work by these two organisations, they were able to prevent an extra 45 rhinos being poached. Poaching is a serious issue in South Africa, and it gives us hope that organisations such as these are making extraordinary attempts, and succeeding, in reducing the number of rhinos lost. 

People around the world rose up to protest against racial injustice

After the devastating death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, USA protests had arisen in nearly all major cities. Hundreds of thousands of people had flooded the streets, desperate to make a change to the overwhelming racial injustice that infects our society. This stand against racism had extended to more than 60 different countries in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and against the racial injustice and police brutality. In response to such a movement, the officer responsible for the death, Derek Chauvin, was charged with second-degree murder, alongside his accomplices for abetting the murder, reforms were made in the way police were to handle members of the public, vows to put more funding towards youth and social services, new databases for collecting video footage of all police action, the removal of several Confederate and slavery-linked statues around the world, action in the media to address institutional racism, and changes to many commercial products to more accurately represent black lives. This change has been a dramatic one, and as an advocator for equality and acceptance for those around me, it is incredible to see a world standing up for those who society treat with disrespect and animosity. 

Crayola had released new inclusive skin-tone crayons

It may seem trivial to some, but moves like this are important. In May, Crayola had released its most inclusive skint-tone crayons to date. The ‘Colours of the World’ pack includes over 40 different skin colours, allowing children to “accurately colour themselves into the world”. Such an idea has propelled the inclusivity of all children of different skin tones into the world, allowing them to feel accepted and ‘normal’, whilst allowing them to understand that there are many different skin tones in the world, with all being equally as important as the next. It is typically thought that we are taught to treat those of other skin-tones differently, leading to preset ideas of others when they are older. Having such an inclusive product for children to use is a definite advancement in enabling our society to function collectively, rather than as isolated groups. 

In addition to the horrible events of 2020, there were many incredible ones too. A valuable reflection on 2020 that I believe is necessary to take away, is that through all of the darkness and trauma you may experience, either individually or with others, you are never truly alone. You will always be wanted in this world, and you should never feel insignificant. No one can be better at being you than yourself, so you should feel free to be the best you that you can be. Amidst all of the valuable lessons 2020 has taught us, the most important now is to love and cherish those around you, and do whatever makes you happy. 

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