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Is 2020 really the worst year ever?


Despite most people describing 2020 as the worst year par excellence, it is very positive to say that it is the year that we have increased our appreciation for science, family and other beautiful things in our life.

Perhaps from here on some things became more important and some less important after this year… Can I really declare 2020 not the worst year?

While we are close to the end of the year by a few days, I follow the feelings of people who assert that 2020 has been their worst year. It is true, you have suffered from sadness and fatigue and perhaps we all share that list of reasons for declaring that 2020 was not a good year but rather a tiring year.

Interestingly and here let me remind you that it was not like the year 1918 for instance, when the epidemic claimed millions of lives, or as it was in the 1940s, when lives were lost as a result of the Second World War.

Despite all the surrounding conditions with closing Schools, business decline, restrictions imposed on many activities and people’s tendency to believe that their lives have reached a stagnation in 2020, it is nice to search for positivity in our life, so that life continues and looks forward to the hope of restoring it as it might have been before.

If we look at 2020 in terms of the development of science and technology, we will see that it is a positive year, creating scientifically continuous societies working together to accelerate safe and fully tested COVID-19 vaccines. Hence, it is difficult to classify 2020 as the worst year when we were only one year ago, we did not know anything about the coronavirus and now we are close or even started getting the vaccine to end this pandemic.

On the one hand, this year may also have been the worst for some, but in one way or another it has affected us all and therefore without a doubt our loss, grief and anger will be collective. And I might go right here and say when we say (worst) what we really mean is weird!

In fact, this is a very strange year as it is frightening not to know it. However, most of us can look around on most days and find fun and beauty differently from the word (worse) like sunrise and sunset, for example. Without a doubt, we have learned what is important and we have played different games with our children and we have already spoken and listened to them.

All these things are good things, but do we capture that delicate texture of what our lives have been like this year in our villages and cities? When we are told that we shouldn’t go out at all except for occasional exercise, walking in the sunshine becomes the thing we cling to. How lucky we were to be able to do that that at least! In the lanes or suburbs of town, our restrictive measures opened up new avenues for creativity: we might turn out of our way to witness spectacular sunsets or finally hit the hiking trail differently as we set out to explore it.

After all, I think here — if you agree with me — that if we feel that any year is the worst, it is mostly because our minds tend to judge the present more harshly. Where unrestrained media consumption of news distorts our perception and it becomes easy to slide into unhealthy patterns of thinking.

If I were thinking, for instance, about how much I wanted to go to football matches, I wouldn’t remember the times my team lost, so we judge the past by its greatest successes, but we judge the present based on all we have.

What I want to point out is how do we change the mentality (the worst year ever)? How do we water something that will grow well? Every morning you wake up with the sunrise, is it not a great gift from God! ... Some yawn or get upset on their way to life and do not even realise what is the chance of being here?

At the end, I think that 2020 was the year of change in everything and it was not the worst years. Most probably we learned a lot from this year and during the coronavirus pandemic and at the very least, there is an ongoing increase in awareness of health and interest in healthy habits.

Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla, MD, Ministry of Health, is a medical innovator and educator. For any queries regarding the content of the column he can be contacted at:

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