2020: The Best Year Ever? by Noah Houriani, 12


LOCATION—Fireworks. Countdown. Ball Drop. Everyone was on their heels during New Years Eve, waiting for the next decade of 2020. They didn’t know what was about to happen! From the Australian and L.A. fires to Kobe Bryant’s tragic death, the BLM protests, and the COVID-19 crisis, the world endured the pain and persevered as one, despite all the catastrophic and poignant events that have occurred.

The first major disaster to spark the chain of calamity was the Australian fires. These horrifying and rapidly spreading fires were a huge adversity to the continent of Australia. On December 20, 2019, one man started the fire which tremendously increased in size to cover about 37,000 acres of land. Surprisingly, firefighters weren’t the only ones risking their lives to save homes. Local citizens came together and bravely fought against the overwhelming fires, as well. According to Nature Climate Change, these bushfires became too big and powerful to control, taking over 20 percent of Australia’s forests; an unprecedented proportion of land destroyed globally. According to the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC), a total of 3,094 homes had been lost to these devastating fires across all of Australia. In a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report, approximately three billion animals either died or had been displaced from their habitats due to the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires. Although this has been a huge tragedy to the population of Australia, many organizations and teams have been collaborating in order to restore and improve Australia’s environment.

“Noah, wake up! We have to pack! Get Up!” yells my mom, scrambling to collect her essential belongings. “What’s going on?” I yell, confused at all the commotion in the house. “We have to evacuate! Look outside the window!” shouts my mom. I pull up my shades and quickly take a look, shocked at what I was currently looking at. Bright red flames filled the dark night with a light breeze of smoke wandering through the air. I just stood there frozen, wondering at how this could have happened. From October 28, 2019 to November 5, 2019, the Getty fires continued to devour neighboring landscapes. This devastating fire was just one of the many fires that continued to burn up many cities throughout Los Angeles. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, from January 1 to June 2, 2020, there were nearly 20,000 wildfires, covering about 440,000 acres of land. Now that Australia and California have experienced these disastrous fires, people are starting to think that 2020 is going to go downhill from here.

The last thing anyone would foresee would be the tragic death of the five-time champion, Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant, A.K.A the Black Mamba was one of the fiercest and most competitive NBA players of all time. That’s where he gets his name from, because he struck the basket with confidence like a Mamba. According to the L.A. Times, on January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant, the 15-time All Star, along with his second daughter, Gianna Bryant, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. When I heard this devastating and heart-breaking news, I was leaving my house, heading to one of my club basketball games. Kobe Bryant was my favorite player of all time and I’m sure he was to most of the world. I knew I had to win this game for him and I did, scoring eight 3-pointers with 31 points! From then on, I never regretted or doubted my talent in basketball because I knew that Bryant would’ve wanted to see us keep playing basketball no matter what! Mamba Forever!!!

After the tragic death of George Floyd, an African American man who died when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes, people were enraged at this unjust incident. People from all over the U.S. have been taking action and hopefully trying to make their voices heard by coming together and protesting, not just for the sake of Floyd’s death, but because of all the years of racism, prejudice and discrimination that has built up against African American people all over the world. On the other hand, some people have taken their anger too far! Rioters and looters have used the death of George Floyd as an excuse and scapegoat for all the looting and riots, originally starting in the city of Minneapolis near the intersection of Floyd’s death. From fighting police officers to stealing merchandise from stores, this ongoing and repeated action has been spreading throughout the entire U.S. Hopefully, these zealous supporters of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement will calm down and protest peacefully with intention and meaning of making a change in history.

Although there are many groups of people rioting and looting, there is still some hope of people who peacefully protest in order to make an impact on the rest of the world. Many people think that the rioters have the same purpose as the protestors in the Black Lives Matter movement, but that is not true. Rioters and looters are the groups of people who have taken advantage of the chaos by looting stores and physically retaliating, also motivated by anger from all the police brutality against African Americans. On the other hand, protestors are the groups of people who peacefully protest and support the BLM movement, hopefully in order to make a difference in the way people view African Americans. It isn’t okay to equate these looters and rioters with peaceful protestors who are working together to achieve justice and equality for all. That’s why it is important not just to understand the difference between these two types of BLM movement groups, but to also put yourself out there and support the BLM cause. No one, especially during COVID-19, deserves to face racism, discrimination and injustice.

The COVID-19 pandemic has literally flipped the whole world’s daily life. The coronavirus is a global infectious pandemic that can easily spread over a large population and geographic area which originated in Wuhan, China on January 11, 2020. According to the New York Times, as of July 31, 2020, there is a global total of 17.3 million confirmed cases and 674,845 deaths. The Washington Post notes that we can contain the coronavirus by practicing healthy habits and abiding by safety guidelines such as hand washing, disinfecting surfaces, avoiding crowds, wearing gloves, quarantining and, most importantly, social distancing in order to limit the opportunities for the pandemic to spread. COVID-19 has negatively impacted daily life and the economy. In order to limit the spread of this pandemic, the government has imposed mandatory shutdowns. Restaurants, stores, schools and companies are closed. Special events such as sports, entertainment, weddings and Bar Mitzvahs have been canceled or prohibited. 

Unfortunately, social distancing can cause loneliness which in turn can cause respiratory problems or more importantly, stress. According to the Associated Press, depending on age and health, coronavirus can cause a mild fever and cough, but for older people who have existing health problems, it brings more severe illnesses or can even cause death. Hospitals have been running out of rooms for COVID patients and front-line workers lack protective gear as they risk their lives for patient health, despite their high risk of exposure to the virus. Companies all over the world have been using their materials and work spaces to make face masks in order to assist all the healthcare workers who treat COVID-19 patients. At Joann Stores, there are special kits for customers who want to make masks at home, which make them feel like they are helping out with something they wouldn’t have control over. This shows that no matter where you are or how affected you are by COVID-19, we can always come together as a community and lend a helping hand to someone in need who is even more impacted by the bumpy road of this pandemic.

Now, you’re probably wondering how the heck we humans are still alive! Well, that’s because the whole world has come together as one whole, experiencing and persevering through these difficult times. Who knows what could happen next!

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