Happy New Old Year


New Year’s Eve – the moment to wish all the best to those around us, promise to ourselves not to procrastinate any longer, hoping things get better in the future. With each “Happy New Year“ the pile of false promises we gave to ourselves only gets bigger. Though, it seems that each year we are less and less frustrated with the notion as we slowly start to learn that these New Year’s Resolutions rarely come to fruition and we tend to give up trying before January is out.

However, this New Year might end up being slightly different in this regard. Was there ever a time when the entire human race entering the New Year had wished not for things to be new and better but to go back to the way things were before? If only this was the sign of humanity’s progress. Sadly though, we haven’t figured out how to be more realistic, less demanding and modest in our expectations – that would be good news. Realistically speaking, “going back to the way things were” is probably one the least probable scenarios we can wish upon ourselves and others, stepping deep into the realm of hope.

We unsuccessfully comfort ourselves that the global situation is not our fault. To the contrary, corona is the one to blame. In less than a year the world went from Covid-19 being a sideshow story about a virus in a remote Chinese market, paving the way for our disbelief that global pandemic will occur, leading to conviction that the crisis will be over with in just a few months, landing in the new reality in which the virus fundamentally changed our lives, becoming part of our everyday routine.

This shift is so beautifully evident in traditional media – corona is not breaking news anymore that everyone is talking/writing/reporting about. Corona-related updates have gently nestled into regular news sections, between weather forecast and culture, brushing against sports and politics.

At the very outset of the pandemic, the current world political system has proved to be unfit to handle a global challenge of this magnitude. Reactions of the World Health Organization, UN and other international institutions have revealed how deeply bureaucratic and formalistic the structures are, unable to do more than showcasing just a general concern and faith that things will get better over time. In the meantime, even these general verbalizations lost much of their sagacity in the overall nonsense of their existence.

National governments were also caught unaware in the midst of the pandemic. It made sense at the beginning, as there was no major crisis after the II World War ended. The lack of global leadership and strategy in fighting the coronavirus left national governments enact different measures of varying effect – from mild limitations to radical lockdown scenarios bordering isolation of entire stares, regions, cities, apartments or rooms.

As no functioning world-wide system that would enable coordination and balancing of the measures was in force, countries started competing on who would better fight the corona outbreak with creative measures and tactics. Soon enough, governments were predominantly focused on applying the widest spectrum of measures, so as to appear as truly caring for the wellbeing and health of their citizens.

Radical measures were justified with a need to stop the spread of the virus and bring life back to normal. The narrative shifted only a few months later, accepting the reality of the virus being part of our daily lives. This also meant that we had to get used to restrictive measures in the long run. Corona has become a dominant political topic, with opposing politicians trying to appear as more competent compared to their counterparts currently dealing with the virus. With pandemic trends still going strong, all other topics fade into background.

As it happens with topics that get tangled into the conundrum of politics, corona has become a popular showbiz subject. This is best showcased at the beginning of the vaccination process when leading news outlets report in detail about key politicians volunteering to receive the shot. Videos and pictures of hese brave heroes, with no tears in their eyes take the shots in front of the world watching can easily fall into the category of bizarre reality TV shows.

Despite the fact that it is hard to imagine a world without corona from where we stand now, I have a feeling it will not be around for much longer. Vaccination, natural viral mutation processes and measures implemented will finally bring the pandemic to a halt. Corona will disappear from the news as well, and it will happen sooner than we think. That is a good thing, for sure. What corona has managed to do, however, is permanently change the world we live in; and it continues reshaping it radically at great speed, surpassing our wildest assumptions.

Maybe December this year will see us well-wishing a happy new year the way we used to – promising ourselves to do something better, profoundly changing in the future, getting our life on the track etc. We might even fool ourselves that life is back to normal. But the world around us will be a different one. We still know very little about that new world, and it is questionable whether we are ready to live in it.

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