7 lessons from 2020 that we forgot in 2021

It seems 2020 wasn’t as very similar to Groundhog Day because it appeared on the time.

Within the thick of final yr’s lockdown, a lot of publications wrote about the seeming changelessness of pandemic life, incessantly by way of the lens of Invoice Murray’s seminal 1993 comedy. However a vital distinction between the film and actuality has emerged in the bumpy yr that we’ve endured since, which has been nothing in any respect just like the aftermath of that Groundhog Day.

Over the course of the film, Murray’s character, Phil Connors, doomed to repeat the identical day again and again, makes use of his time to study essential life lessons and enhance himself. Individuals appeared to comply with go well with with the primary half in 2020, gazing inward and taking a warts-and-all stock. The one drawback is that we stopped in need of truly doing something with this info. The pandemic uncovered so many vulnerabilities in our lifestyle—from the service economy to the supply chain—and dared us to not make some constructive modifications. In contrast to Phil Connors, nonetheless, when time began shifting ahead once more, we simply slid backwards.


The pandemic wasn’t the one main teachable second of 2020 both. Final yr was stuffed with upheaval on all fronts—social, political, cultural. Revolutionary potential was in all places, if we wished it, and for some time it appeared virtually attainable that we would possibly optimize a brand new future from the ashes of the previous one. Or at the least discover a neater approach to watch The Conjuring: The Satan Made Do It when it was unsafe to go the flicks. On that final rating, we did indeed find success. On virtually each different one, we didn’t.

Listed here are seven lessons we discovered in 2020 that we appeared to overlook in 2021.

1) The pandemic is a public well being disaster that can’t be resolved by particular person motion

Lots of the errors our leaders made as COVID-19 first crept into America may (generously) be chalked as much as a lack of knowledge. Quickly sufficient, nonetheless, the state of affairs developed and the nation’s issues have been the product of poor communication and the absence of nationwide coverage. Particular person states have been free to implement security measures as they happy—or not!—and official messaging was all over the place. Basically, hundreds of thousands of individuals have been left to calculate their very own private consolation with threat, based mostly on wildly completely different knowledge sources, to find out how one can go about their lives. Once they bought sick, as so many did, folks needed to hint their steps to see the place that they had failed. Not sufficient social distancing? Not double-masked? Ate indoors at a restaurant? No matter it was, although, it wasn’t all their fault.

By the point the third COVID wave hit Individuals in late-November 2020, the nation’s world-high pandemic deaths have been clearly the fault of a authorities that supplied no constant messaging, guidelines, or monetary options to the folks on the bottom. It was a systemwide failure to tell, defend, and supply for folks throughout an enormous public security disaster—one that helped value the president overseeing it his job.

Though there was a pronounced change in early 2021 when a brand new administration belatedly put out constant pro-masking, pro-vaccine messaging—and handed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill—it didn’t final lengthy. Efforts to vaccinate all Individuals ran aground, as a consequence of many difficult elements, with the arrival of the delta variant in mid-2021. Biden set (*7*) for employers, albeit too late, whereas native governments discovered methods to skirt them. And as yet one more variant ravages the nation, the administration’s newest technique is to . . . increase existing vaccination campaigns, ship out at-home COVID checks (subsequent month, and solely in response to an embarrassing press conference flub), and leave further solutions up to the states. In different phrases, as soon as once more, duty for defeating our nationwide nightmare is positioned on the ft of particular person actors—the unvaccinated, the mistake-makers—reasonably than the establishments that may create a testing infrastructure and clearly communicated insurance policies to handle and mitigate it.

2) Tying healthcare to employment standing is needlessly merciless

Even in one of the best of occasions, America’s healthcare system has been, shall we say, precarious? In a pandemic, it was extra ghastly than ever. Unemployed folks with out insurance coverage could scarcely afford to get sick, although in many instances COVID had different plans. Moreover, because the market retracted and companies shuttered, an increasing number of folks discovered themselves all of a sudden with out jobs, and in worse form to afford a visit to the hospital. The pandemic appeared to validate the Medicare for All rallying cry of many Democratic Occasion early major voters. It uncovered so many issues with the American healthcare system that the subject of renovating it fully saved cropping up in op-eds all through 2020. Lower than a yr later, nonetheless, whereas the Democrats lowered the cost of Obamacare, and have flirted with the thought of improving healthcare somewhat, the thought of decoupling insurance coverage from employment appears to have gained zero floor.


3) Distant work is a advantageous different for many workplace jobs

Talking of employment standing, lots of people modified theirs through the pandemic. In the event that they didn’t jettison their jobs altogether, collaborating in what we’re calling the Nice Resignation, they modified the way in which they carried out these jobs. In 2020, out of necessity, Company America kind of disbursed with the fiction that most workplace jobs can’t be executed from dwelling. Positive, there’s a sure frisson that comes with understanding that an impromptu brainstorm may technically twirl by way of an open workplace plan at any second (though it seldom does.) As soon as the overwhelming majority of those that may work from dwelling started to take action, although, it turned out that the digital equal of most workplace interactions greater than sufficed. Workers embraced their commute-free life and employers relished with the ability to rent candidates from wherever in the nation.

Not lengthy into 2021, nonetheless, the dialog trended towards how quickly the experiment may come to an finish. At the least, CEO’s tried to information the dialog that approach. New York Instances opinion items argued the case in opposition to remote work, with The Washington Submit declaring it bad for productivity. (Different analyses argued otherwise, in fact.) One CEO’s op-ed, concerning the dangers of employees not returning to the office, was so off-base it impressed her employees to go on strike the very subsequent day. As a substitute of spurring us to rethink how a lot actual property is important for a corporation to perform, the distant work experiment moved CEOs to wax sentimental concerning the disappointment of empty office seats.

With the arrival of Omicron, although, office-bound staff had different causes to be unhappy.

4) Cataclysmic local weather catastrophe is extra imminent than ever

Christopher Nolan couldn’t have been any extra specific. His 2020 blockbuster Tenet featured representatives from the long run coming again to the current to kick our asses for not doing enough to combat climate change. For the previous 30 years or so, the world has been regularly speaking about possibly, probably making some modifications to thrust back climate-related disasters in the long run. What grew to become unmistakably clear in 2020, lastly, is that the long run we hoped to keep away from is already right here. We reached the destruction part far sooner than skeptics anticipated. The yr began off with devastating Australian bushfires, and continued with lethal wildfires that made California look like literal hell. The last word catastrophe situation had moved irrevocably past hypothetical. Anybody with eyes may see. One thing needed to be executed! And but in 2021, taking motion on local weather change continues to be, one way or the other, not a serious precedence in the US. Including malicious insult to existential harm, although, a coal millionaire is presently standing in the way in which of billions in local weather funding.

5) The facade of media objectivity is unnecessary when actuality has a liberal bias

The most important political story of 2021 must be the GOP brazenly embracing violence. Between the lethal riot on the Capitol on January 6, Kyle Rittenhouse’s elevation into a right-wing folk hero, a sequence of violent threats towards school boards and electors, Rep. Paul Gosar’s tweet depicting himself murdering a colleague, and one other gun-toting rep endorsing “Second Amendment solutions to stolen elections,” there isn’t any dismissing this conduct as merely the product of some fringe contingent. Whereas the Democrats have actually had a troublesome yr, with a lot to criticize, just one occasion is flirting with extremism at its highest ranges. But political media nonetheless tends to cowl information by way of the lens of two equally severe events working in good religion.

In 2020, Donald Trump blatantly telegraphed his refusal to accept the 2020 election results if he lost. The actual fact that he ended up finishing up his risk, and that so many members of Congress helped him do it, ought to have put an finish to the media’s tendency to deal with the extremist occasion as a mirror reflection of the opposite occasion. However alas, it wasn’t the top. Articles concerning the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riot had headlines like, “Congress hits new levels of partisan rancor,” as if either side had equal declare to rancor. Journalists later pretended that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had equally valid points when Pelosi objected to McCarthy appointing rabid Trump defenders on the 1/6 fee. Sunday information reveals saved platforming GOP politicians who refuse to concede that Biden gained the 2020 election, with out definitively pushing again on the declare. Maybe a few of these journalists are simply so bored with the Biden era they need to do no matter is in their energy to assist get Trump again.

6) It’s not sufficient for Democrats to easily not be Trump

It was solely by the pores and skin of their tooth that the Dems discovered themselves in management of each the White Home and the 2 homes of the legislative department again in January. Biden’s win was decisive, if torturously long to determine, however Dems misplaced seats in the Home and solely gained a 50th Senate seat in a particular election. The message of that razor-thin win ought to have been loud and clear: The occasion wants to supply one thing greater than merely not being as repugnant as its opposition.

However as a substitute of working to earn the votes they gained by fulfilling marketing campaign pledges, the Biden administration has been working like that victory was its birthright. After a strong start, the administration settled right into a sample of doing simply sufficient; kind of microdosing well-liked progressive initiatives. Its signature transfer has been to almost do the wrong thing after which backtrack after the backlash.

It’s not sufficient.

Biden mentioned in 2020 that the election was a battle for “the soul” of America. You wouldn’t comprehend it from what he and his colleagues have completed in the yr since successful that battle.

7) Don’t be stunned that folks like Korean leisure

To finish on a lighter be aware, some extent that must be reasonably apparent to anybody paying even slightly consideration to popular culture: The shock success of Netflix’s Squid Sport shouldn’t have been all that surprising. Even with celebrity music acts like BTS and Blackpink discovering international success in the previous a number of years, folks appeared shocked that a South Korean export like Parasite did so effectively on the 2020 Oscars. Extremely, that identical sense of shock ran rampant by way of all of the breathless protection of Squid Sport’s world-beating success. Possibly the following time one other breakout hit emerges from the area, folks will keep in mind to not be so stunned.


Contemplating our observe report for remembering issues, although, I wouldn’t guess on it.