Envelope 4: It’s Not 2020, It’s You

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Because we all need somebody to lay (the blame on)…

Dear folks around the world,

While this year may have thrown a vicious pandemic at us, there is nothing we can gain by putting the blame on it. Except maybe some satiation for the ego. I sat down to write this post today because we, as a people, really need to change the way we perceive our circumstances and do something to help them improve instead of hiding behind screens and memes playing the victim card. “Blame it on 2020” is inherently so wrong that we don’t even recognise our folly in jumping on the bandwagon to sounds “cool” or be a part of the group. While on the surface it reflects our ignorance and dead curiosity, below the surface it reflects the far greater crimes we are committing towards ourselves and collectively towards each other. And someone’s gotta point it out.

Oh! A celebrity died, 2020 is the worst year.
Oh! There’s a storm about to hit us, this year is cursed.
Oh! I can’t go out to party with my friends on my birthday, 2020 has just sucked the joy out of my life.
Oh! I’m too lazy to study or look for work, I know my future employers would get it when I tell them 2020 was my gap year.
Literally any news that comes floating onto our notification bars or social media feeds, “2020 sucks!”

Why?!

Did people not die before this year?
Did storms never hit your coasts before this year?
Did illnesses like cancer, or plane crashes, or tsunamis not wreak havoc on people’s lives before this year?
Did your laziness not prevent you from procrastinating before this year?

The answers are yes, yes, yes, and YES!

While most of us sit with our privilege in the safety of our homes, the only people who have the right to put the blame somewhere else are people who are actually suffering because of the pandemic — the frontline workers, overworked doctors, sole earning members in a family losing their livelihood, sanitation workers, doorstep delivery servicemen, policemen, people living in dysfunctional families and/or in abusive relationships, elderly people who can’t get regular full-time access to healthcare services, people living in inhumane conditions without proper drinking water or food or sewage disposal facilities who are cut off from major cities which provided them such facilities — they have the right to feel like cursing this year out of sheer frustration because they are the high-risk groups. And most of us are NOT on that list. The most ironic fact about most of them — they are the ones with the least complaints!
And while these people grapple with the risks they face every waking moment of their lives, what are the rest of us doing! Are we using this as an opportunity to reset our lifestyles? Are we taking this opportunity to honour their work and their presence in our lives in whatever capacity (directly or indirectly)? Are we even following the minimal requirements of decreasing the risk of the pandemic — staying at home, wearing a mask when outside, sanitizing our hands, avoiding touching the face when outside, maintaining physical distancing? The answers are no, no, and NO.

I agree that the prevailing circumstances are unprecedented, uncertain, and unlike anything we ever found ourselves prepared for. But then again, has anyone ever been born with a “Manual for Life”? Have we stopped to rethink and reset? And if we have given that a thought, have we consistently stuck to such a resolution to improve our own lives, let alone those of others? C’mon! Be honest here. But then again, who is ever honest on the internet or even in real life!

We need to change the way we function through crises not by expecting someone else to do that for us, but by taking each day as it comes and adding some value to the lives and spaces we touch.

If you have the good fortune of being healthy, having three square meals a day of your choice, having the means to receive an education (even if that’s online, or for that matter, having access to quality internet services), being able to pay bills, have a place to stay, have a job that pays (even if less than before or less than expected), are in the presence of friends and family (or for that matter, a supportive and functional circle of people), have the time to read and comprehend the message in this article — then you ARE privileged (even if you have at least one item on this list in your life). Because most others don’t.

However, the point of this article is not to familiarize you with the privileges you have (but take for granted). Though it can be. The purpose of this open letter is to tell you that we are all deliberately missing the whole point of being human. If we have evolved as a race that gets to have a brain so advanced it can take us to distant celestial bodies, then what is stopping us from using all the potential within us? What’s the point of having such intelligence (in whatever capacity) if all we have left to do in life is to scroll through memes and binge mindlessly on OTT platforms while playing the victim card and blaming everything on 2020? It is all wasted potential. And the only way of fully realizing the infinite potential in us, we have got to start being curious again — finding solutions to everyday problems, being of service to those who provide their services to us, volunteering without the thought of gaining something tangible in return (because that’s what volunteering really means, isn’t it?), finding ways to stay productive throughout the day, working on our own holistic health, making sure we are there to listen when someone is breaking down, using this time as an opportunity to enrol into a skill-based online course and amping up our employability, making sure we are reconnecting with ourselves before stepping outside to socialize (and potentially put others and ourselves at risk)… There’s just no dearth of options on that list. This is the most perfect time to create value — not just in our own lives, but in the lives of those around us.

Death, disease, forces of nature, time, and other people — they’re all outside of our control. It’s high time we accepted and acted upon the fact that we need to stop playing the blame game for something that’s outside our control and instead focus on working on that which is within our realm of control.

Stay at home. Stay safe.
Stop the blame, light up that inner flame, and show the world your A-game.

Sincerely,
Aparna

Originally published at http://wordsandinbetveen.wordpress.com on August 29, 2020.

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Aparna Nayyar

I write to help people lead more fulfilling lives by helping them take care of their psychological well-being.