“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” ― Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities”
Perhaps I was too young as a student of preparatory school to fully comprehend the opening lines to a novel penned by Charles Dickens, who described the contrasts between citizens in London, England saying “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
Although intriguing, his sociological references in “A Tale of Two Cities” endeared me to his prolific writings.
Throughout those years, it seemed incomprehensible that both conditions could exist simultaneously. But in each of his novels he seemed to cite a dichotomy that existed in the Victorian era often attributing to need for orphanages and surges in child abandonment — “David Copperfield,” “Oliver Twist,” “Great Expectations” and “A tale of Two Cities.”
Back then living in the commonwealth, he was my favorite author and his work resonated as literary nutrition to further my development.
However, in 2020 I can see clearly now that the tales of 1859 are as relevant in America as they were in Victorian England.
The Dickensian literature I cherished in my youth were magnified by the pandemic. Quarantine slowed the pace forcing everyone to pause and for many to see things as they are and not how they are perceived.
For a segment of the society it was indeed the best of times. Some real estate magnates claimed a windfall in added earnings. Benefactors of misappropriated stimulus reportedly boosted their coffers — Kanye West among the millionaire profiteers — and enterprising entrepreneurs capitalized on opportunities to reap unprecedented profits.
Then there are those who lost loved ones to the coronavirus; depleted their savings, relied on food banks to survive, became homeless, jobless and pessimistic about their faith and country.
For them it was the worst of times.
Dickens would have penned another bestseller had he lived through a year that 90 million global citizens encountered the COVID-19 virus.
Among the victims, 333,110 Americans who died.
In 2020, daytime television talk-show provided “The View” a one-hour, midday potpourri of female chitchat from conservative and liberal influences who opined on topics related to politics, entertainment and current events. Their perspectives on the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other racially charged cases helped to amplify conversations some of which under normal circumstances might have faded under the radar.
During a year, nighttime television introduced reality shows titled The Masked Singer and Masked Dancer viewers seemed to be held hostage by masks they are required to wear in order to ward off infection.
Throughout the period of quarantine, a litany of hypocrital and ugly realities concealed for generations were unmasked.
Needless to say, 2020 was a year of racial reckoning. The fact systemic racism, Black Lives Matter, Defund The Police and a few more phrases emerged regular topics to debate, America was under a microscope.
Truth be told, breaking news became a constant alert to political strife, weather disruptions, police brutality, death tolls, uncontrolled fires and a myriad of unusual occurrences.
From the White House to homes throughout the nation, eye-opening revelations exposed unprecedented fallacies. It is unimaginable that the president refused to concede election losses, and more than one month later remains deluded that he has been toppled from his high perch of power and prestige.
Also in 2020, the marvel of a Black vice president, a woman — Kamala Harris — positioned to decide national and world politics arrived one administration after the historic election of Barack Obama, the first Black president.
The downside of 2020 are almost too numerous to list — No Broadway plays, no concert tours, no dining in restaurants, no hugs, no late-night subway rides, no unannounced visitations, restricted or few international travel, along with voluminous numbers of victims of the virus.
Yet, in 2020 there were several memorable and commendable events that revealed the best of humankind — the 7 o’clock clapping ritual in tribute to the contributions of essential workers, Zoom sessions on the internet, hearing birds chirp, appreciation of blue skies, fish returning to the canals of Venice, the election of the Biden/Harris ticket, not one but two vaccines arriving at the year-end.
Thanks to Pfizer and Moderna, hope of eradication of COVID-19 seems imminent.
To all who supported, gave succor and helped the needy, I extend a huge gratitude.
My sincere condolences to all who grieve.
To each and every essential worker, every goodwill ambassador many many thanks.
All the best to everyone, atheists, and religious, rich and poor.
Don’t look back, look ahead to 2021.
Catch You On The Inside!