OPINION – The year the earth stood still

No matter how you wish to look at it, 2020 has already earned its spot as a memorable transformational year at every possible level – from individual life plans to the future of entire nations.

It has been an unbelievable ride, from that moment at the end of 2019 when “some cases of a strange pneumonia” were first reported in Wuhan to these last days of 2020 that brought along the promise of a massive vaccine roll out which everyone hopes will put an end to the global paralysis.

Meanwhile, we’re left with more than 1.64 million deaths worldwide and an unclear but certainly immeasurable impact on our health and economy caused by some 74.1 million cases.

There is no point in underlining which country was more impacted by the pandemic, in a crisis that is possibly the first real global crisis of our lifetime. If there’s one thing this crisis made clear is that there’s nothing more depressing than seeing whole countries pointing fingers and throwing blame around.

What started as a “Chinese problem” in the eyes of the rest of the world quickly developed into a global problem, and global cooperation ended up being one of the quickest ways to solve it.

After all, you see vaccines produced by German-American or Chinese private corporations sharing knowledge and testing vaccine candidates in Brazil or the Middle East. All to develop a product that should be of international public domain.

And no matter how dreadful the death toll is for so many countries, for many others the financial impact will prove to be more long-lasting and consequential.

Just look at our little corner of the world. Macau reported only 46 cases, no deaths, and has remained Covid-19 free for almost five months. Still, the local economy was severely damaged the moment the stream of mainland tourists was shut down.

The real effects of the pandemic for the city will likely only likely be truly be felt next year as the usually loose public purse tightens and companies start to have no choice but to make even harder decisions.

For reporters, this year meant a non-stop flow of information, at one point so increasingly catastrophic it almost ground them down. For how can one clearly report on a crisis that impacts you and your closed ones personally?

How can one remain objective when relatives test positive or lose their jobs, when everyone else around them seems lost in the midst of an ever-changing crisis?

And yet, there probably never was a time when providing precise information to the public was as important.

Even as the worst part of it seems to be over and we can see some light at the end of the tunnel, it will probably take years to even be able to assess the real impact that this year has had on our lives.

Hopefully, this year will make us appreciate many things we, as citizens of the modern world, usually take for granted.

You surely give a different value to that spontaneous vacation you took you to take after the whole international airline industry was literally grounded.

The outside world another colour when you had to weeks or maybe months in quarantine.

You will have a different view of the sacrifices that sometimes having a working society demands when a simple act of civility such as wearing a mask can save you and those around you.

Such an “exciting year” will also make you appreciate those “boring years” you lived before.

We don’t know what 2021 will bring, but one has to hope that a year that separated us all like never before will bring us all a bit closer together.

After all, it’s almost Christmas and I hope you all have something you will surely appreciate more fondly this year during the holidays.

[MNA Editor-in-Chief]