Woman holding a child in the woods.

5 Silver Linings of 2020

17th December 2020

We hope our final blog of the year finds you well! 

Most of us will be delighted to bid this year goodbye and good riddance. But with the approval of a vaccine in the UK and plans already in motion to roll it out, there is hope on the horizon! 

Amidst all the fragility and frustration there have been several inspirational human moments. So before the year draws to a close, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of the positives from the past twelve months. 

1. We Came Through

You might remember back in February this year, the hashtag #bekind trended across social media, opening up much-needed conversations about mental health. However, it soon became a shorthand for human connection, and how we can help one another when times are tough.

And as the events of the pandemic unfolded over the next few months, it seems the nation made good on their promise to be kind. 

At a time of great distress, and great need, Britain pooled together to support countless relief efforts, and of course, our own beloved NHS. Although we have paid homage to him on our blog before, we just couldn’t bring up the nation’s generosity without mentioning  Captain Tom, who now has a single and a book release. What next for our hero?

Incredible though he is, he was far from the only one around. The NHS Volunteer Responder program, which sought assistance with delivering essential food and medication to those isolating, received over a million applications from people eager to offer their services. This was just one of many remarkable efforts this year that reminded us that the ‘great’ part of Britain really is the people. 

And what more fitting tribute could there be to these countless acts of kindness than this year’s John Lewis advert

2. The Kids Were Alright

As we spent more time online than ever, the viral stars kept coming – but these two were amongst our personal favourites. 

Born in 1998, Zoomers Tim and Fred Williams are twin brothers from Gary, Indiana, who create videos together on the YouTube channel ‘Twinsthenewtrend’. Having been raised on a steady musical diet of gospel and Christian rock, the brothers sought to broaden their horizons and dedicated their channel to sampling classics from just about every genre. 

Back in July, their channel received over 8 million hits when they listened first time to Phil Collins’ classic ‘In The Air Tonight’, and their reactions were something to behold. You can catch the magic here – the whole clip is a great watch, but skip to 4.50 for the drum beat drop!

As the internet watched these two kids’ minds being blown in real time, the twins gained some celebrity attention, including Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox, who was suitably moved by their reaction to ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These.’ 

“It’s amazing from my perspective, watching these two incredible young guys picking up on Sweet Dreams – recorded in ’83,” she wrote, adding, “THAT’S where the true power of music lies… A bridge to the soul and intellect.” 

Well said, Annie. And on that note… 

3. Creativity

In a recent blog we explored the future of the arts post-COVID. But the months of international quarantine earlier in the year bred their own array of incredible creative projects that capture our strange times. 

Amongst them, the New York Times’ Decameron Project. This collection of short stories takes its name from Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, a stronghold of Italian literature that tells of ten young men and women quarantining from the Black Death in 1353 Florence, who share stories with one another to pass the time. 

The modernised project includes works by Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell and Colm Toibin, amongst others, and has since been released as a physical collection, although the stories can be read on the New York Times website. As the project’s tagline goes, “When reality is surreal, only fiction can make sense of it.”

4. Back to nature

Earlier this year, Australia was devastated by a series of aggressive bushfires which prompted the government to announce a state of national emergency. The events claimed 33 lives and over 3000 homes, and caused mass damage to the habitats of countless wild animals. 

But in spite of the tragedy, a number of heart-warming stories arose, including that of an all-female Indigenous volunteer fire crew. The Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust CFA formed over two decades ago and have worked tirelessly throughout this year’s fire season to protect the local land. 

As the bushfires were declared officially over on March 31st this year, good news came for the local wildlife too. Amongst them, a number of injured koalas who have been nursed back to health and are now being released back into the wild.

The recovery is by no means over, but it’s great to see progress being made.

5. We stuck together

It was a difficult year but we were all in it together. We stayed home and safe to protect our families and loved ones, paid homage to essential workers who toiled tirelessly to keep the nation ticking over during an impossible time, and kept connected with one another in moving and innovative ways.

With a vaccine on the way, hope is on the horizon. But of course, the final silver lining of 2020 is that it’s over at last. 

A very merry Christmas from all of us at ARU Distance Learning and, we hope, a much happier new year! 

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