By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
As regular readers would know, I have been putting together a year in review article for some time now.
2020, as we all know all too well, is a year that defies any description and certainly, if someone would have told us in 2019 what some of the directions, news stories or even general themes of 2020 would be, we would not have believed half, or even a tenth of what they told us.
But oddly enough, 2020 has been less a year of momentous events (so far) than a year of the absence of momentous events – even those markers that define our normal year.
Annual events like reunions, conventions and fairs did not happen.
Weddings, funerals and birthdays were commemorated in ways that would only make sense in 2020.
2020 was the year of the quarantine – until it was the year of the quarantine within a quarantine, thanks to the smoke that enveloped most of the west coast – and made its way across North America and even into Northern Europe.
2020 had its own Groundhog’s Day aspect where each day seemed to blur into the other with little distinction or purpose. It was as if the universe was making us all stop and consider what we had done and what we should do differently – sort of like us all being sent to our rooms for bad behavior at dinner.
And it’s good thing most of us did spend more time inside; the weather outside was, to use a phrase, “frightful”. Storms, floods, fires, droughts and hurricanes seemed to cover every inch of North America for almost the whole year. Weather reporters tired of the term “wacky weather’ and one local TV news station started using the term “Weather Warn Day”.
I know I’m biased here, but doesn’t that sound like something a toddler would say? Couldn’t you imagine a two-year-old looking out a window on a stormy day and saying “Look mommy, it’s a weather warn day!”
That phrase is the summation of 2020 – the dumbing down of a catastrophe that impacts every one of us, but is so vague and unhelpful that it only raises our stress level without equipping or informing us.
But that too, like so many phrases from politicians and the media are infantilizations of serious issues that demand our thought and attention.
But for whatever reason, we get babytalk.
Like the rest of 2020, perhaps, there is this sense that we should be learning something, there should be something memorable about 2020, something we can all take form this experience – but no one seems to know what that might be.
2020, in many ways, feels like a “tipping point” – but toward or away from what, no one seems to know or be willing to say.
But at least the seasons seem to be on their usual schedule, just a bit more intense than usual.
You want floods, fires, wild weather and political gibberish in a time when focus and leadership could not be more necessary?
I think that we all know that the end of 2020 will not bring the end of COVID-19. And as much as democrats might not be willing to say it, the end of the Donald J. Trump presidency will not be the end of all the craziness. We will still have a level of civil disunion and mutual contempt from both political parties, that, like COVID, shows no signs of abating.
However the election goes in early November, we all know that it will be messy, contested and, no matter how it goes, contentious.
Previous presidential “losers” have proven themselves gracious and, for the most part either quiet or conciliatory.
No matter how the election turns out, we now have a situation where even the “winner” complains. In sports you might (rarely) hear of a “sore loser”. But a “sore winner”? Complaining of unfairness used to be a sign of poor sportsmanship, now it is one of the basic assumptions of playing.
We are in strange territory where all the rules are up in the air. “All is fair in love and war” used to be the old saying. Now it seems that “All is fair in any game.”
Getting back to playing (or watching) a game of any sort will be a welcome return to something like normal. Watching any game, from football to our electoral process, knowing that the game itself is respected and played fairly will be the most welcome game of all.
Like many of us I think, my hope is for a boring 2021, when we can have weddings and birthdays and a trip to the grocery store is not like a visit to a toxic waste site, and we can have simple, non-controversial conversations with our neighbors without worrying about touching on topics that might upset one or both of us.
We have only about a dozen weeks left of 2020, let’s do what we can to make it through 2020 without too much more lasting damage.