The common salutation at the turn of the year is to wish somebody a happy New Year. It will be hard to find happiness if 2022 doesn’t actually provide us with something new, however. The most striking thing that can be said about 2021 is how little different it was from 2020.
The year 2020 was miserable for most of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic began spreading at the beginning of the year, causing fear, instability, and economic damage around the planet. Panicked governments imposed restrictions on work, travel, and social gatherings in hopes of controlling the spread of the disease. While we were all apprehensive, many of us took comfort in knowing that the lockdowns should be little more than “two weeks to flatten the curve” as our local governments told us.
The two weeks turned into months that can now be measured in years. Businesses opened and closed as pandemic waves came and went. People stayed home on the Easter of 2020 under the assurances that they would be able to visit family in the summer. Summer vacations were deferred and people remained home while the state told them they would be able to reunite in gatherings at Christmas. Infections surged at Christmas and we were locked down again. “It will be better in the new year!” we were assured.
Well, 2021 came and went and it was nearly identical to 2020.
Not only did nothing change, but most Canadians didn’t seek or demand any changes.
Sure, we saw protests against government restrictions popping up across the country in major cities at times. Those protests never evolved into actions large enough to catch the attention of Canada’s decision-makers, much less change the course of their decisions. The demonstrations were often dominated by people with some questionable views to say the least, and never brought out average Canadians in noteworthy numbers. Canadians claimed to be upset with the pandemic restrictions, but not upset enough to go out and protest against them.
Canadians had the ultimate opportunity to pursue real change in the fall of 2021. We had a general election. We saw the election coming for months. The fall campaign was dominated by discussion on the pandemic as was to be expected. Many questions were asked regarding the degree of the government’s pandemic response and the amount of money being borrowed in order to continue with that response.
When given the opportunity to express a desire for change in a way as simple, safe, and potentially effective as casting a ballot in an election, Canadians resoundingly selected the status quo. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was returned to office with almost the exact same support numbers as he had when he dissolved the Parliament and called an election. Canadians may fear the pandemic and are concerned about the federal government’s response to it, but not so much that they could overcome their fear of change.
People look to the New Year as a time to embrace rejuvenation and fresh beginnings. It is a time to shed bad habits and embrace new ones. We should be looking back on the last two years and asking ourselves what we can do to make the coming one better. I think most people agree that the last two years have been terrible, but are most people ready to take a leap and embrace changes?
We appear to be no closer to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic today than we were in February of 2020. While most of the population has been vaccinated, we are now seeing a massive rise in cases due to the new Omicron variant leading to lockdowns, stress, and restrictions yet again. We are always told that we must make sacrifices now so that we may all benefit later. It has been two years now; when are the benefits coming?
I don’t know what the most direct path out of the pandemic is, but with two years of pandemic experience under our belts, we can sure list a lot of things that don’t work. Why do we keep trying them?
As we enter what will be our third year of living in the COVID-19 age, are we ready to try something different yet?
I do want to look forward to 2022 with optimism. I want it to be a year where we move beyond the pandemic and begin to enjoy prosperous lives again with free movement and no social restrictions. I do think we can get there. First, though, we have to embrace an attitude of change.
This year, don’t make the same old tired resolutions to quit smoking or lose weight. Make a resolution to stand up for yourself and tell your political leaders that it’s time to do things differently.
If we don’t do that, 2023 will be indistinguishable from the two years preceding it.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.