Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Can 2020 get any worse?

 “Ugh! Could this year get any worse?!”

I’ve been hearing that lament a lot lately. No doubt, 2020 has been a doozy. We’ve had the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown, a crumbling economy, riots and civil unrest, historic statues being destroyed, and recently a tropical storm caused over 800,000 electric customers in Connecticut to be plunged into darkness. And to make matters worse, once major league baseball finally started again, the Red Sox decided to field a team that would have trouble beating the True Value Hardware Tigers from the Torrington Little League.
Whenever someone starts saying, “Could this year get any worse?!” I immediately cut them off. “Don’t say that! Please!” I exclaim. “You’ll jinx us!”

The fact is, this year could get worse. A lot worse. For example, so far during 2020, we have yet to experience an earthquake, a flood, a plague of locust, or an extinction-level meteor crashing into North America. But even if these cataclysmic events do not occur during the remainder of this year, it’s a safe bet that 2020 will get worse for one simple reason: this is a presidential election year. (If you had blissfully forgotten about the election, I apologize for ruining your day.) 

During every election since I was a kid, the experts regularly predicted, “This will be the nastiest campaign ever.” This year, I finally believe them. I wonder if there is a pill that will make me sleep for the next couple of months? I could wake up in mid-November, and it would be all over. (All over? What am I saying? The lawsuits over mail-in ballots will continue well into the new year. The winner may be decided by a Silver Fox vs. Orange Man mud wrestling contest. Hmm, I’d pay to see that.)

We have to keep in mind, no matter how bad 2020 is, it’s not the worst year ever. Back in 1968, there were assassinations, civil unrest, an unpopular war, and general chaos. I was 11 at the time and definitely not paying attention to national news. My main focus back then was trying to get more playing time with the True Value Hardware Cardinals in my hometown of Clinton.

If you think the COVID-19 pandemic is bad, back in 1918, a flu pandemic began that killed close to a million Americans. And if you think our current economic situation is dire, look up the financial statistics for the 10-year period starting in October, 1929.

For a world-wide perspective, how about the years 1939 through 1945? Referring to Great Britain's valiant struggle against the Nazis in 1940, Winston Churchill said it was “their finest hour.” But the years from ‘39 to ‘45 were definitely not mankind’s finest hour. (It’s hard to advance to the next round of the “Finest Hour” playoffs when 80 million people get killed, most of them civilians.)
The important thing to remember is that people are resilient. Whatever happens, we will deal with it. We always have, and we always will. Now, it’s true that some of us might not make it to the other side of the chaos. Some of us were not going to make it much further anyway, regardless of whether our society experiences turmoil or peace. That’s kind of what happens after a half-century of preferring Snickerdoodles and glazed crullers to broccoli and lettuce — or so I’ve been told by my doctor once or twice or a hundred times.

I’m sure we’ll survive 2020, plus whatever unexpected craziness comes along in 2021. But please don’t wake me, as I plan to be asleep the whole time — unless the True Value Hardware Little League team needs a first baseman.

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