On 29th January 2020, I wrote an article for the Opinion Section of STAND News entitled “Coronavirus: Number of Cases Suspected to Rise”. My piece was littered with claims such as “In recent days China has seen a significant jump with the number of deaths increasing by 26 to 132 almost all in the province of Hubei, the capital of which is Wuhan. This trend is likely to continue in the short term”; “There is an evident spread of the virus to the European continent, with Germany claiming the first confirmed case on the mainland”; and “Nearly 60 cases have been reported in 15 other countries, including the United States, France and Singapore.”
If only we were to know what was to come: Covid-19, with a worldwide death toll of now almost 4 million, reached Ireland in early March and resulted in over 250,000 cases and nearly 5,000 deaths nationally. Following on from this, almost globally-enforced lockdown measures, including the shutting down of schools, social distancing, working from home, prohibitions on excursions of more than 5 kilometres from home, the closing of non-essential businesses, restaurants, venues, mass redundancies, and the suspension of international travel.
As the effects of both the virus and the corresponding lockdown are still echoing in Ireland and around the world. It baffles me to think of how much has happened in the almost-year-and-a-half since the entire world ground to a halt: the Australian bushfires, Harry and Meghan’s exodus from the Royal Family, the impeachment of Donald Trump and the subsequent election of Joe Biden (and Kamala Harris as Vice President), the police-involved killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the Black Lives Matter movement, the explosion in Beirut, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the rapid nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, the storming of the US Capitol, the banning of Trump from social media, the Myanmar coup overthrowing Aung San Suu Kyi, the back-and-forth between Putin and Alexei Navalny, the mass shooting in Asian-owned massage parlours, the Ever Given’s sojourn stuck in the Suez Canal, the death of Prince Phillip, and the highlighting of the #FreePalestine movement after an onslaught of fighting.
“Since March of 2020, I have finished out my second year of college, and both started and finished my third year; I completed my first internship and was offered a graduate programme; I got a promotion in my part-time job; I made an entire new group of friends; I turned 21; and, possibly my proudest moment, I won Editor of the Year for 2020 with STAND.”
In Ireland alone, we saw the end of Civil War politics as Sinn Féin became the big winner in the national elections, the apparent curse of the role of Minister for Agriculture, the saga of Golfgate, a completely reformed Leaving Certificate, the Garda-related death of George Nchenko, the publication of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission investigation, the onset of the national vaccine rollout, the cyber-attack on the HSE and the Department of Health, and the extremely recent easing of restrictions and re-opening of society over the June bank holiday.
But we cannot forget that this year has also been filled with our own life events and milestones. Since March of 2020, I have finished out my second year of college, and both started and finished my third year; I completed my first internship and was offered a graduate programme; I got a promotion in my part-time job; I made an entire new group of friends; I turned 21; and, possibly my proudest moment, I won Editor of the Year for 2020 with STAND.
We’ve had holidays, birthdays, graduations, births, weddings, and funerals; we’ve had cancelled Erasmuses and special online opportunities; we’ve had our most painful disappointments and our most joyous achievements. It wasn’t all good – and it wasn’t all bad. It was just life. And life has a funny tendency, in the midst of chaos or even dormancy, to just go on.
And throughout, the Opinion Section in STAND has stood strong, to capture it all; a constant for people wishing to expel their thoughts, whether they be on current affairs or personal prophecies. We’ve had articles on everything from direct provision and image-based sexual violence, to boundary-setting in friendships and cancel culture, to Taylor Swift and Britney Spears. This year was tough, but I feel absolutely privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to look after such a fruitful and varied section, driven by the most thoughtful, clever, and talented contributors, who continue to inspire me every day.
And so, as society opens back up and we all venture into the world with a newfound hunger for life, allow yourself to reflect – in a macro and a micro sense – on the time we have had, as well as the times that are to come. Writing, for me, is a way to make sense of this ever-eventful, ever-changing world and my thoughts on it. I hope and believe that the Opinion Section has been, and continues to be, a place for everyone to do the same.
Featured photo by Mattias Diesel
This article was supported by: STAND Opinion Editor Olivia + Programme Assistant Alex