I imagine a lot of people all around the world will be heaving a huge sigh of relief when the clock ticks over to 2021. We’ve had the trifecta – fire, flood, and plague, with a side salad of political and social unrest, especially in Europe and the USA. Moses would have been proud.
Here in Australia, the year started with fires all over the country, earning the epithet of ‘Black Summer’. The fires were closely followed by flooding rains – welcomed by some after the crippling droughts, but devastating to communities already suffering from the fires. As the long task of recovery started and rural towns were getting ready to re-open their doors to travellers bringing much needed cash flow, the world was hit by a new virus coming out of China. Covid-19. Travel stopped. Hospitals overflowed. Australia coped well. The death toll is a little over nine hundred [source] – which is pretty good considering that more than eight hundred of those deaths can be directly attributed to the hotel quarantine debacle in Dan Andrews’ Victoria. The good news is that a number of vaccines are being rolled out throughout the world in the coming year.
But the fat lady isn’t singing just yet. To add to the economic woes resulting from covid lock downs and restrictions, China is upping its bully-boy tactics, hitting our exports, including wood, wine, barley, wheat – even coal. So 2021 isn’t going to be an easy year for Australia. Still, there’s another side to all this. Although Xi Jinping and his buddies won’t be suffering, the Chinese people aren’t quite so lucky. China’s ‘draconian’ new food laws ‘epitomise’ Beijing’s mentality
China is not just targeting Australia. The US, Japan, Canada, and the EU are all being threatened. One story that amused me is that the Chinese warned the Czech Republic that they would stop the flow of tourists because of the country’s refusal to use Huawei in its telecom industries. Authorities in the Czech Republic weren’t particularly upset – they wanted to reduce the number of visitors to Prague. Instead of backing down, Czech officials worked with the White House National Security Council to bring European officials to Prague for an internet-security summit. Chinese representatives weren’t invited. [source]
Pete and I will read labels even more diligently that we did before. Wherever possible, if it’s made in China, it will stay in the shop. Hopefully, manufacturing will re-start in Australia. It has already happened with surgical masks and hand sanitiser. We already made our own toilet paper. And we will develop other trading partners.
It’s going to take a looong time for the Western countries to recover. I doubt that the world will ever be the same again. That’s not (IMO) a bad thing. Maybe employers will maintain working from home which will lessen the massive daily commute. Maybe people will move out of the clogged big cities. (That’s already happening, with a migration of people from NSW and Victoria to Queensland, or to rural areas). Maybe the whole concept of what education for kids is supposed to be about will be reconsidered. Maybe we’ll start to ask whether all those public ‘servants’ are really necessary? Maybe we’ll start asking if the powers of the states should give way in these circumstances for a national approach. Maybe we’ll recognise the need to overhaul our out-of-date constitution.
In America ex-President Trump is causing as much disruption as he possibly can in his last days in power. Trump’s lawyers have attempted more than fifty court cases in a number of states to overturn the election results. All of them have failed. One of my Facebook friends, an American lawyer, shared the following article The 2020 election wasn’t ‘stolen.’ Here are all the facts that prove it. Regardless, Trump continues to mutter about coups and military intervention to ‘right a great wrong’. His propaganda machine has done a great job of selling the story, though. Far too many Americans actually believe in the ‘stolen election’, which does not augur well for unity in the US. There’s no doubt Donald J. Trump, or at least his policies, are very popular with a large swathe of the American people and the incoming administration will have to contend with that. Perhaps there’s still a forlorn hope that Don will scrounge up a modicum of dignity and leave the White House gracefully. But I doubt it. For what it’s worth, I’m with the people who wonder about the man’s sanity.
Over in the UK, in the spirit of all good fiction, an exit deal was done with the European Union at the very last minute. Like all such deals, it’s a compromise, with various parts, for instance fishing rights, tailing off over time. 2021 will be a year of disruption and adjustment in Britain but it won’t be the end of the world. Free trade agreements will be signed with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and others, probably any minute now. And I’m sure the Germans will still sell cars and the French will sell cheese and wine (BTW, Australian vin ordinaire is better than French vin ordinaire). We’ve got top quality coal to sell, iron ore, barley, wheat, beef. And really, passport control isn’t too bad in Europe. We have to do it all the time.
On the subject of Europe, I’m wondering how much longer the EU will last before it starts to splinter. The common currency, in particular, doesn’t appear to have been a great thing for countries like Spain, Greece and Italy. Or Poland and Hungary. What a shame the Powers That Be didn’t stick to the original idea of a Common Market. What with the ongoing pandemic, and attendant civil unrest, 2021 will be hard for Europe, as well.
Back when I was younger and interested in weird stuff beyond our ken I used to play around with things like Tarot cards. 2020 can be represented by one card – the Tower.
According to A.E. Waite’s Pictorial Key To The Tarot, the Tower card is associated with misery, distress, indigence, adversity, calamity, disgrace, deception, ruin. It is a card in particular of unforeseen catastrophe. [source]
The thing about the Tower, though, is that all that destruction and adversity heralds change. There’s no better example than the Great Plague of the mid fourteenth century, the Black Death. With somewhere between one third and one half of the population dead, society had to change. The feudal system fell apart because the peasants who weren’t dead were in short supply and in demand. Life was fundamentally altered. And from there we saw the first stirrings of the Renaissance.
So.. it’s gotta get better from here, doesn’t it?