Updated: Dec 18, 2020
By Bren Bartol
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2020 has been a rough year for us all, and none of us expected it to turn out the way it did. This time last year, everyone was excited to enter a new decade of possibility. Unfortunately, many of those expectations tanked. As 2021 fast approaches, it’s easy to get bogged down, thinking it will just be the same as 2020. However, if we commit to leaving a few things behind, 2021 is sure to be a better year.
1. COVID Parties
It doesn’t matter if you are with your quarantine pod. A party of 200 people is not a quarantine pod. A quarantine pod should be a small group so you can keep from going stir crazy, but still keep people safe. Yes, this year has been hard, and we need a release sometimes. But we cannot continue endeavors which risk continuing and even worsening this pandemic. There was a wedding in Maine. 55 people attended, one of which had COVID. The virus spread to 176 people. Seven people died from COVID - none of whom had attended the wedding. Cases are at an all time high in the US. Over 270,000 people have died in the US. We need to take the responsibility and precautions to keep everyone safe now before more preventable deaths occur.
It’s painful this has to be spelled out. The Nazi party of Germany committed atrocities. Six million Jewish people were tortured and died in German concentration camps. Hitler was the mastermind that killed millions - and he didn’t just kill Jewish people! Hitler sent LGBTQ2S+ people, disabled people, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others to the camps.
Neo-Nazis are no different from the Nazis of WWII. They support genocide, racism, and a fatal, horrid idea of white supremacy. Memes with swastikas are not funny - neither is a profile pic. A Nazi swastika (not to be confused with the swastika that predated the Nazi swastika from Hinduism and Buddhism - they look different), is a sign of antisemitism and hate.
3. Cancel Culture
Cancel culture is problematic for two main reasons: it leads to and contributes to bullying and gossip, and it doesn’t allow people to make and learn from their mistakes.
To be clear, cancel culture is not calling out bigotry. If someone is being racist, queerphobic, islamophobic, or expressing another form of hate, call them out! Cancel culture is more superficial than this, pertaining greatly to gossip - not to the shutting down of hateful behaviors.
Let’s take James Charles, the famous makeup YouTuber and influencer. I don’t watch James Charles, but just through word of mouth of the school hallways, I am aware of his scandals. And to my knowledge, most of his scandals are just gossip-worthy - they aren’t serious accusations of him being a horrible person. He’s bounced back from each one, but they lead to massive internet catfights and bullying of both parties. They can get quite nasty, leading to hate comments, threatening comments, and comments telling the parties to kill themselves or die. Anyone who has been bullied knows how horrible it feels - so why are we participating and allowing this scale of hostility to occur?
This bullying makes people feel very self-conscious and scared. And because it is typically centered around gossip, it makes the person in question feel as if they cannot make mistakes - a dangerous mindset that doesn’t even prevent one from making them. It is impertinent to be able to make mistakes without being immediately shunned so people can grow into functioning adults who understand how the world and people work.
Enough with the bullying and constrictions. Learning to grow and adapt after mistakes is a life skill that everyone needs - and cancel culture prohibits such a crucial life skill.
First, let’s explain what a vaccine is. A vaccine is a small bit of a dead variation of the virus that meets up with your immune system. Your immune system and the vaccine then make an alliance - they agree to work together. The vaccine then becomes a personal trainer for your immune system, training it to learn how to repel a live, current version of the virus, should it attack the troops of your immune system. And that’s what a vaccine does! It trains your body to fight against the virus, so you don’t get sick, and the virus dies before it can be passed to someone else. When a community is vaccinated, the greater immunity means the virus has nowhere to go, hence, stopping the spread.
Many anti-vaxxers claim vaccines cause autism - yet there is no evidence of such, and the studies that claim confirm it have been struck down by the greater scientific community. As my grandfather said, “These anti-vaxxers clearly were born after the polio vaccine was created” (The polio vaccine was created in 1953, my grandfather was a child at the time). Polio makes life extremely difficult for those affected, and polio is life-threatening.
We don’t have a vaccine for COVID, and that is only one virus. Imagine not having a vaccine for every virus! The world population would be much lower, and many more people would live with conditions (sometimes life-threatening) after recovery. There is a reason public schools require a certain number of vaccines for children to have before attending. It’s to stop the spread, eliminate further problems in life (e.g. keeping kids from getting chickenpox so they don’t get shingles as adults, which is very painful), and to keep compromised or at-risk students and staff from having further complications spurred from the virus.
5. “School is the most important thing”
This is a major no. School is not the most important thing. Is it important to a degree? Yes. Should it consume your life? Cause you to have panic attacks or get three hours of sleep? Or teach you that you need to get an A every time because if you aren’t at 100% all the time you are a failure? That you should sacrifice your mental wellbeing, your free time to take care of yourself and destress, and your socialization time with friends?
School is not the most important thing. It has its perks and benefits. When you are 45 and working, you aren’t going to care about the C you got in math because you were taking care of your siblings, working, doing school, and getting three hours of sleep a night. Your boss won’t care either.
Try in school. But also know that you can take a step back, make time for things you love, and learn how to do other fun things instead of studying madly to be the top in your class. Live a little! It’s worth it!
2021 will be what we make it. Will you support and encourage the furthering of these five things (for others and yourself), or will you join with others to work for a better future?
Written by writer Bren Bartol