By Juliette Levy-Gay (’24) and Emma Aranda (’24)
It’s April, which means that it’s officially been just over one year since quarantine began — and one year since our lives changed drastically. There are still lots of restrictions in place, since we’re still living through a pandemic, and nobody can forget the awful things that have happened. Awful things like COVID, which caused millions of deaths globally. Countless global disasters, from the Australian fires to the explosion in Beirut. Things that made literally no sense, like when murder hornets seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Most regrettably, the world lost some wonderful people.
However, since we spent the whole year looking at the negatives involved with living through a chapter in a future history textbook, it’s time to focus on the positive things that people missed because they were so focused on COVID. Here are just a few things we thought were overlooked: we hope this will uplift moods and bring people to the realization that this year wasn’t all bad.
2020 started off strong with the Oscars, where Parasite swept all the major awards, making history as the first international film to do so. It won “Best Picture,” “Best Original Screenplay,” “Best Production Design,” “Best Film Editing,” “International Feature Film,” and Bong Joon Ho became the first Korean director to win “Best Director” for his work on the movie. Parasite later went on to win the Academy Award for “Best Picture” as well.
Then, in March, the last ebola patient in Congo went home from their treatment center. A wonderful accomplishment given that this particular outbreak was the second deadliest in Congolese history.
Soon after this great achievement, the Southern African Wildlife College and the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance set a group of dogs out to protect rhinos from poachers. Over the past two years, these dogs have been trained to use their precise sense of smell (or their impeccable hearing, depending on the breed) to track down rhinos and poachers. So far, they have saved a total of 45 animals!
Jumping way into June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it illegal to fire people for being part of the LGBTQ+ community. While some employees were protected by the rule prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, there was no explicit law stating that one could not be fired for being LGBTQ+. Despite this legislation being an obvious moral right for many people, there are still a great number that refuse to accept LGBTQ+ individuals into their community and workplace, thus rendering this law a crucial step in combating homophobia.
Finally, as a result of the U.S. Presidential election in November, Kamala Harris was named Vice President of the United States. Harris’ new title marks a massive breakthrough in the fight for gender equality as she is not only the first female Vice President, but the first Vice President of African and South Asian descent to lead the U.S.
Although the year quickly went south when COVID hit, the pandemic taught us to truly appreciate healthcare workers, nurses, and doctors for their valiant efforts and all the hard work they do. Furthermore, in 2020 our greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by a striking 2.4 billion tons, which is 7% lower than those produced in 2019. This staggering difference is the largest change of greenhouse gas emissions in recorded history. Lastly, we have uncovered Zoom: a revolutionary app that will undoubtedly play a significant role in the world going forward. Zoom has provided the answers for endless problems people face daily, such as the inability to travel for work or school, getting large groups of employees or students together, sick days, and countless others.
Despite the year being pretty crappy overall, 2020 had some considerable silver linings. As we look past the blaring and obvious letdowns of this year, we can learn to appreciate the smaller things that brought hope and joy to the world in times of desperate need. While the pandemic continues, people will adapt and more influential movements will undoubtedly form alongside them, slowly restoring the world to a better state for when the chaos is finally over.