New Year, Same Shit

Booze is just a miracle elixir, ain’t it? I spent my New Years Eve drinking cheap whiskey and it made me feel like everything was all right. It worked great for at least 2 hours until the chemical deception wore off and I was reminded that things fucking suck right now for most everybody. We’re still in a pandemic, people are losing their jobs and homes, wealthy shitheads and corporations are making billions off our sweat and desperation, family members and friends are dying, and we’re constantly bracing for an economic, environmental, and/or societal collapse. Maybe the beautiful fibs are why I stopped casually drinking in the first place. You keep lying to me every time we get together, Jack. Anywho, Happy New Year! We made it to 2021 and all it took was a lot of hardship from us and a lot of ineptitude and cruelty from our so-called leaders and “job creators”. This year needs to be better than 2020. Hell it also needs to be better than pre-2020 because the so-called “normal” that our politicians, media, and corporations want back will slowly kill us and quickly enrich them. I wanted to make a post today to discuss what we can do to make 2021 into a year of revolutionary action and justice instead of us merely watching our descent into madness and mediocrity via the warm glow of the news feed. You and I are worth more than pre-2020 normalcy and we’re going to use these 12 months to get what we deserve.

A small fraction of San Francisco’s unhoused population during this pandemic. Source: Human Rights Watch, 2020.
Police vs. Anti-Lockdown “patriots” and George Floyd protesters. Source: The Independent, 2020.
Montreal protests in solidarity with Mi’kmaq lobster fishermen. Source: Global News, 2020.

I will not stand for complacency or willful ignorance this year. 2020 had its moments of solidarity, but unfortunately the year was also full of selfishness, corruption, and misplaced hatred. People cheered for healthcare workers while rarely heeding their advice to stay inside and wear a mask. Folks said Black Lives Matter one day and wagged their fingers at riots or shared cop hugging videos the next. Canadians tolerated anti-Asian violence in the wake of COVID-19 while still claiming ourselves to be superior to the Trump cult and other hate groups. Our politicians preached about Indigenous issues while building pipelines, ignoring water concerns, and constructing cramped man camps in the middle of an infectious pandemic. The unhoused were condemned for not being able to follow health protocols despite not having homes to quarantine in or accessible hygienic facilities. Prisoners all over the world were left to get sick in their barred petri dishes and folks mocked their misfortune because “they made their choice to be criminals”. We continued to offer platforms to hack pundits, conspiracy theorists, and white nationalists on television and social media instead of combatting poisonous rhetoric/lies that only serve to maintain a dangerous status quo. Billionaires made billions and the working class risked sickness (and potentially death) to barely scrape by. Cheerleaders for the State may see nothing wrong with these things, but I spent all year lamenting our failure to stand together and condemn the bullshit being force fed to us. I hope to make amends for the mistakes of 2020 no matter if they came from our own doing or society’s lack of compassion and foresight.

A reminder that yes 2020 was horrible, but a lot of it should have been expected due to systemic failures and our dear friend late-stage capitalism.

How can we make amends and work towards a better year? There’s no clear answer or set of instructions, but I am a firm believer in taking small actions every day to improve myself and aid my community. I spent most of my December making a list of what I wanted to do to alleviate the suffering of others and educate myself. I want to reiterate (as I’ve done with many posts) that I am coming into this year from a privileged position and one that affords me the limited comfort to blog and and serve my community. I am not facing most of the oppression that I’m fighting against (beyond general capitalist oppression) and that’s not often the case for many folks. I am not saying this to brag about my life but rather to assert that my plans for this year are not always accessible for everyone and that some comrades literally can’t afford to do anything but survive. I am saying this as to not judge anyone or claim superiority because we are all fighting our battles and trying to make it through this garbage existence. These are just my plans and possible suggestions for anyone considering both community and self-service this year. I guess you could call these my personal resolutions for 2021:

  1. I would like to volunteer more with the shelters in town (when they reopen for volunteers again). I was working in one of our busiest shelters before the pandemic, but they have closed volunteer positions due to safety concerns. I donate cash every month in the meantime, but I truly valued my in-person work and am itching to get back in and help. If you have the means available, shelters and outreach programs in every city are always looking for cash and clothing donations so please consider supporting them during this time.
  2. I want to be there for my students. Before Winter Break, one of my Grade 5s anxiously asked me whether 2021 was going to feel better than 2020 and it broke my heart to see him so uncertain and scared of the future. I told him that I hope so, but that I honestly don’t know. However, I also reassured him that regardless of what happens I am going to be there to support him and every one of my students. They can count on me to be a stable and calming presence in the classroom. Children’s mental/physical health needs to be taken care of whether it’s in the classroom or at home especially during this trying time. We, as adults and accomplices for change, should place their care as a priority because we can’t afford to fail kids like we fail other adults.
  3. Force myself to be more active in leftist circles and form connections albeit socially distant ones. I am a hermit and have always kept a small friend group out of comfort. However, it’s become ever more important to gain contacts and make yourself known in leftist circles as to keep informed of actions, support grassroots movements, and get to know fellow accomplices who share your values. Naturally, you’ll find more ways to help others if you make an effort to associate with like-minded individuals.
  4. Be more aware of my privilege and ingrained settler views. I’m a white Canadian and grew up with strong nationalist tendencies that I have worked (and continue to work) on eliminating from my personality. I’m a flawed human being and make mistakes even now in my 30s. I can make an effort to acknowledge these errors and correct them. It’s not about white guilt, but rather it’s the need to admit that I have ingrained biases and am always willing to learn and grow.
  5. I need to call out bullshit whenever I see it. Recently, a Facebook “friend” of mine was posting anti-mask propaganda comparing health orders to Nazis persecuting Jews and sharing posts from some conspiracy theorist spouting the same nonsense. I called her out for spreading fear and ignorance and have done so with several other friends over the past few months with varying degrees of success. I have told co-workers to stop spreading “COVID is a hoax” propaganda and offered legitimate sources to turn to for information. I’ve even condemned anti-trans aspiring politicians in my city and warned my LGBTQ2S+ friends about their rallies and plans. Small actions like these need to continue into 2021 and beyond. You and I can’t be complacent because ignorance and hate thrive when good people are quiet. Don’t shut up. Make life uncomfortable for shitty people and keep your hands out for those seeking redemption.

Again, I wish you all a Happy New Year. We’ve been through a lot in 2020 and I sincerely hope that you are living your best life right now all things considered. I want to make 2021 a year to remember by tearing down the walls that divide us and burning the institutions that oppress us. We were failed time and time again last year (and years before) by our so-called leaders and one percenters and, by placing our trust in them, we denied ourselves liberty. Free yourself and fight for the positive changes we desperately need in society lest we see more 2020s down the road. Love your neighbour, take care of yourself, and don’t settle for pre-2020 “normal” because we all deserve better than that. I believe Ernesto “Che” Guevara put it best when he said “the revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall”. I say it’s about time for us to chop down that tree and share the spoils. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you again. Solidarity, my friends.


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