2020: A Year of Humility

By William J. Furney

If there’s one thing many of us have learned this year, it’s a big lesson in humility. For all our freedoms and liberties, and desires to do as we please, this year all that was quashed by an unseen enemy that took over the world and killed at least 1.7 million of us. 

2020 will forever go down as the year of novel coronavirus, 12 long and torturous months that look set to continue well into 2021. Will anyone celebrate New Year’s Eve this year, sentimental about the year ending or desperate to leave it all behind and escape into the new one? 

The fireworks extravaganzas we’ve been used to in the world’s major cities are mostly banned, due to social distancing measures, and that’s a good thing, for those of us who live in places where dolts cannot make do with pyrotechnics and firecrackers for a few moments but hours, days and even weeks, destroying sleep and terrorising meek animals and all because they have nothing better to do. 

But will the clever coronavirus and its rapidly mutating ways scupper our new year exuberance and pressing plans to get back to normal? We see ourselves at the top of the food chain, superior beings who have developed advanced weapons to nuke our same-species enemies, but how fragile and inferior do we feel now, against the pummeling might of microscopic organisms that know no borders or boundaries? 

Earlier in the year, most of us were in strict lockdown (including yours truly, not even allowed out for exercise, for months) and now, at the end of the year and going into the new one, many of us are back where we started, and worse, with even harsher lockdowns introduced to stop the contagion from spreading even further. 

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2020 was the year our lives were suspended: no work (at least at the office), play or travel. We thought we knew it all and could go, see, do anything we wanted; but it turned out we knew little of anything and were confined to our homes for much of it. 

Along with the tragic death toll, tens of millions lost their jobs and businesses were forced to close their doors for good. I was struck by a tale related by a politician in the Scottish parliament this week: A Scotsman and father for two who has a sofa store doesn’t know how to survive after non-essential businesses were again forced to close, and had just over £650 left in his bank account — and no immediate prospect of new business amid a flood of bills. Yes, there’s government support in this time of pandemic, but it’s often late, and not enough.

If there’s one thing we should all be having this Christmas and New Year, it’s a big slice of humble pie. No, we are not better than other creatures, and more deserving; no, we cannot continue with our wildly destructive ways and destroy our world with crazy-abandon; no, we are not the Rulers of the World. We must lose our arrogance — even as we race to leave Earth for the Moon and Mars — and adopt a celestial degree of humility.

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The best thing anyone can do this coming year, and especially those among us who make “resolutions” that usually, and swiftly, fail, is to have a big dollop of respect for our fellow creatures, our environment and planet — and our health. There’s only one way to do that, and for many, it’s not so savoury: it’s to go vegan. 

Let’s not forget that this pandemic came about because of people’s lust for animal meat — bats, it’s believed, in this case

Let’s not forget that previous health crises — bird flu, SARS, foot-and-mouth disease — are also zoonotic.

Our bloodlust is killing us. 

Yet even though the vegan diet is the optimal for humans, many people are terrified of even the mention of the word. Lettuce, carrots, peas is what they think vegan fare consists of, when the reality is that, when done well, it’s a world of indulgent taste and robust health — and can save your life, as this tale so movingly demonstrates.

If the rona-jab gives us back our lives, is it possible we will change our destructive ways? Given most people’s selfish behaviour, there’s little chance of that happening. Most people will continue as usual, with scant regard for the people, creatures or planet all around them — as long as they can get their (unhealthy) meat fix. 

Change is coming, however, as veganism inexorably rises, and it cannot come fast enough. Do you really want to risk it all for the fleeting taste of the flesh of our fellow beings?  If the answer is yes, as it most likely is for the majority of the world population, it’s time for you to adopt a huge dose of humility in this most humbling of years. 

  • Title image show a plane, as tracked by flightradar24.com, making the shape of an injection as Europe rolls out coronavirus vaccines starting on December 27. 

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