What 2020 has taught us
Haider Rifaat


Editor's note: Haider Rifaat is a writer for the South China Morning Post, Arabian Moda magazine, Good Times magazine and OK! Pakistan. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

We are a few days from welcoming 2021 as one of the most challenging years in modern history comes to an end. However, a different year does not equate to the end of a pandemic. 2020 has been anything but a year of bliss. We are headed into the New Year with some glimmer of hope but cannot determine if the coming year would offer respite given the new strains of COVID-19 identified in Italy and the United Kingdom.

Nearly 2 million worldwide have already died from COVID-19. Families continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones as they lay buried underground. People at large have been met with an array of personal and professional challenges that have tested them to the core.

But grievances aside, come to think of it, 2020 in general has taught us some pertinent life lessons. The importance of empathy and humanity was lost on us for quite some time. The poor were sidelined and insufficiently supported long before the pandemic emerged; we only realized what it is like to live in their shoes until recently. Charitable activities began to blossom this year. Many NGOs and nonprofits raised money for households that were most impacted by the pandemic. Even affluent families around the world chipped in to render financial support to people met with socioeconomic challenges.

Thankfully, we regained some sense of purpose this year. COVID-19 enabled us all to come together and show empathy towards one another – something the world took for granted in the past.



In a similar vein, the pandemic has taught us all that leadership matters in times of a global crisis. Donald Trump led concerted efforts to politicize the pandemic by blaming China for the spread of the virus. The U.S. now finds itself in a predicament with the most COVID-19 infections in the world.

On the flip side, the Chinese government and a community of ace scientists and healthcare professionals were able to overpower COVID-19 in due course. The country managed to ingeniously contain the spread of coronavirus.

Trump, on the other hand, spewed misinformation about COVID-19 with false rhetoric, deeming hydroxychloroquine as the supposed cure of the disease. He also held rallies with a majority of Americans violating the standard operating procedures including the White House aide.

Leadership wise, the stark contrast between China and the U.S. gives us significant insight into how COVID-19 has fared in both these countries.

We also have a lot to be grateful for this year. We are alive and breathing. We have food on our tables and have means of income unlike many households that are struggling. Millions are still out of jobs on account of a poor global economy. Many chronically ill patients have had to face an even bigger challenge with delays in therapy and fears of contracting COVID-19 much faster than an average healthy human being. It is times like these where being thankful counts the most.

The pandemic has made us realize that life is too short to be unhappy. Living in the moment matters. Being there for the people you love matters. Family matters. From a spiritual standpoint, many have also found their sense of purpose with religious healing.

We hope that the New Year would bring us all the peace, healing and happiness that we deserve as we bid 2020 farewell. Let's hold onto the lessons we have learned this year and try to live by them once the pandemic is over.

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