2020 – The Year of Splintered Reflection

by Fia Hadeed


Time. A boundless coil of fulfilment, the immeasurability of man’s ceaseless desire to pervade our time forming the foundation for both societal development, and psychological unravelling. Our greatest triumph and our heinous oppressor. Time is omnipotent, invaluable, the ultimate object of yearning. However, how does one escape from the cruel haste of time when provided with no external solace? How does one delay the inevitable pang that accompanies the perpetual deliquescence of hours, days, weeks, a month, two months, six months, without the necessity of distraction? Life is distraction. Life is friendship, parties, socialising, romance, seduction, adventure, pandemonium, destruction, construction, loss, celebration, mistakes, accomplishment, purpose. Distraction is comfort. If 2020 has impressed anything upon society, it is the reinforcement of our innate discomfort when accompanied solely by ourselves. Socrates once stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living”, yet what are the consequences of self-examination? 2020 is a shattered mirror, it is Ozymandias’ “shattered visage”, it is the “damned spot” Lady Macbeth cannot cleanse, it is the brief glimpse of reflection that frightens us before we have applied our facade for the day ahead. So, what am I getting at? Well, I suppose, within my verbose and convoluted ramblings, I am posing the question, is this mirror our salvation, or our damnation? In and amongst the loss and devastation, is 2020 the great saviour of a prejudiced society? Must we accept that this naked face, however unsightly, is the key to genuine social progression?


Unless you have yet to already infer, I am, of course, alluding to the myriad of evils lurking beneath the surface now seeping through the cracks, forced out by the cataclysmic, fracturing pandemic, this societal mallet now our familiar acquaintance, Coronavirus. What I noticed, as I’m sure was a ubiquitous revelation, is that when forced to be alone with ourselves, stripped of the trivial, quotidian divertissements with which we attempt to distract, both the supreme and the execrable of our society were unveiled.


We marvelled at Captain Tom Moore, a former British Army officer and recent centenarian, embarked on his “100th Birthday Walk”, raising £32,795,065 for the heroic NHS workers who selflessly embodied our national guardians at the expense of their own safety.


We recoiled in unmitigated outrage at the egregious barbarity with which George Floyd, an African-American male murdered in cold blood for the alleged use of a counterfeit $20 bill, was treated, sparking a global racial revolution as an abundance of horrific cases buried beneath right-wing political cloaks were divulged in a long-overdue public outcry for justice. However, was Captain Tom the first? No. Was George Floyd the first? Far from it. So, why now? Why when we are ordered to remain within the comfortable walls of our all too comfortable homes do we experience this ardent desire to mend the broken world without?


Of course, I cannot answer these questions, these tremendous, philosophical queries to which even the likes of Plato and Heraclitus would quiver, for how can the founders of thought diagnose its innate flaws? We are flawed. Our beauty resides in our defects. However, unity in imperfection, I believe, is humankind’s greatest strength. It seems to me that, although many may argue this to be the ubiquitous toxicity plaguing the human condition, our inescapable self-obsession is our greatest asset, for with self-absorption comes reflection, and with reflection comes evolution. A pandemic forcing us to lay down our tools for advancement, has launched the mightiest social evolution of the 21st century, and for that I am thankful.


I thank 2020. I am thankful for the cracks, I am thankful for the ugliness, I am thankful for the beauty. 2020 has reminded me of the tenderness that emerges when faced with tragedy, along with the malevolence. 2020 has bestowed the power of change onto our youth, for which I am eternally grateful, having lost sight of this property myself in the whirlwind of juvenescence and insouciance. Thank you, for breaking that bloody mirror. About time.