As we exit the year past, what do you consider to be the most significant event of 2020?
Among a plethora of extraordinary events, as a doctor, the occurrence of COVID-19 gets my vote. Why?
Look at the statistics:
At the time of publication, this is the stark situation worldwide:
Cases: 72 million
Recovered: 47 million
Deaths: 1.6 million
In the US alone, the figures are startling:
Cases: 16.3 million
Deaths: 300,000, equivalent to the entire population of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The US has now recorded more deaths from COVID-19 than occurred on the day of that infamous terrorist assault on the US - September 11, 2001.
The bald numbers worldwide though fail to capture the anxiety, distress, pain, and sorrow evoked by COVID-19. We know that there are many undocumented cases, notably in the underprivileged, poverty-stricken countries of the world. Clearly, this is the most devastating pandemic since the Spanish Flu, which none of us are able to remember.
The pandemic threatens to continue for years, at least until an effective vaccine is created and administered to sufficient of the world’s population to create enough herd immunity to abort the spread of the virus. We have to accept this ugly reality, even as we hear promising talk of emerging vaccines in every news bulletin.
It is wreaking its legacy of disease, disability and death against an appalling background of war and civil strive the world over, far too widespread and enduring to list in this piece. Instead, if you have the stomach for it, take a look at this catalogue of contemporary events
Be prepared to be dismayed.
Add to these violent events the sad reality of political turmoil in hundreds of countries, in some manifest by benign disagreement, but in others characterised by confusion, uncertainty, political oppression, civil disorder, violent behaviour, even war. You don’t need a catalogue. Just turn on the TV each evening.
Then we have the politics. Wherever it exists, we are assailed by the unedifying spectacle of partisan, adversarial behaviour where virtually everything the opponents do or propose is wrong, inadequate, incompetent, ‘too little, too late’, or simply foolish. We are pleasantly surprised when agreement is achieved, or a compliment thrown across the political divide.
On the global front, intrigue, dishonesty, blackmail, manipulation, gaslighting, mafia-like behaviour, even assassination, are the tools of trade. ‘Throwing someone under the bus’ is a slightly less offensive trademark, but just as aggressive.
We hear regularly about the dubious or dishonest behaviour of Putin, Netanyahu, dictators in Central and Eastern European nations, and those warring in Armenia and Azerbaijan. It scarcely attracts our attention; these situations feel remote, not our concern.
While we bridle at some of the utterances of our own politicians, they pale against those we hear from other countries; ours are a relatively benign mob!
For sheer effrontery though, is there anyone who can hold a candle to POTUS Donald J Trump?
We know we won’t have to endure his shenanigans in the role as President for much longer, but realise he will continue to affront many of his own Americans, his allies, his enemies, and all who follow his extraordinarily bizarre behaviour, while all the time energising his cult followers.
Whilst he now seems prepared reluctantly to exit the White House, he will continue to insist that he won the recent Presidential election ‘in a landslide’, and that he is being deprived of victory by his adversaries (especially his nemesis ‘the fake media’) whom he accuses of perpetrating fraud on a massive scale, notwithstanding the repeated rejection of his assertions by several courts, and even some of his closest staffers. Moreover, he will continue to insist that he will contest the next election for President.
We must not take this threat lightly! He means it. His narcissistic need for continual publicity and adoration will never abate. Nor will the devotion of the cult that follows his every move, and accepts his every word. He will continue to be their inspiration, their saviour; indeed they will still insist they would ‘die for him’. The dangerous toll of entrenched belief
starkly highlights this reality.
We have to acknowledge his enduring capacity to inspire, arouse, and enlist the unquestioning devotion of his followers. He has been doing so for many years, starting with his reality show The Apprentice
. Attracting such devotion is his lifeblood, the very reason for his existence. We may struggle to understand such devotion, but it is real and enduring. His addiction to his adoring supporters is incurable, such as is his chronic narcissistic personality disorder.
Even during the interregnum between Trump, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being in office and in complete control, Trump will continue to tweet his disapproval and protests. His disruptive comments will continue long into Biden’s rule. Remember Trump is insane. Nothing will change that stark reality.
Even as he recedes into the mists of times past, don’t believe we’ve heard the last of him. He will continue be there in the background, sticking his nose into public affairs, offering his learned analysis and advice, insisting he is the one, the only one who has the wherewithal to govern the US, and steer the world in the right direction.
What have we done to deserve this?