South Africans make a joke of everything. Currently, there are lots of jokes about the year 2020 on WhatsApp groups and other social media. Among these is a picture of the contents of an oxtail potjie wasted on the ground with a caption that says, “If 2020 was a potjie…” Such jokes, coupled with so many negative headlines, make one wonder if 2020 might be a lost year.

Lowering the lockdown to level 3 has changed the circumstances of millions of workers since the beginning of June. The question is how to get focused and excited about 2020 again after so many days in isolation. Here are some tips to save the 2020 trajectory and continue the year successfully.

Focus on the future

All the negative news going around make many people feel extremely uncertain about the future. Rather focus on the future after the pandemic. We must keep believing that treatment for COVID-19 will eventually be found and that the world will gradually return to normal. We’ve done this before – and we can do it again. It is estimated that there have been about 15 flu pandemics in the last 500 years – and the world has survived every time. In addition, the current lockdown is not unique to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the Spanish Flu of 1918, several places in the world closed their churches, schools, dance halls and other entertainment places to prevent the spread of the virus. And although the Spanish Flu has had a dramatic effect on society, the world has finally returned to normal. Focus on the future. Soon there will be more certainty again.

Accept that some things will change

Although change is not always pleasant, it is sometimes necessary and even beneficial in the long run. The Black Death, for example, was a devastating pandemic that struck the world in the Middle Ages (1347–1350). Despite the massive loss of life, the tragedy has brought lasting changes and bettered society globally. The Renaissance, one of the most remarkable periods in our history, was born out of the social, economic and cultural changes caused by the Black Death. The Renaissance was an intellectual explosion during which, among others, art treasures were created by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Michelangelo, and scientific discoveries were made by Copernicus and Galileo. At the time, new knowledge about the planets and the universe has come to light and it was proven that the earth orbits the sun. Gunpowder was invented, mathematics expanded and explorers began to sail around the world. The upheaval and change that COVID-19 brings about can once again bring new ideas and transform society. Although things are about to change, it is in fact a unique and exciting time in which we live. Who knows, we might be entering a new Renaissance.

With restaurants closed and interprovincial travel limited, it feels as if South Africa will never return to normal. Yet, each of us now faces a new opportunity – the possibility of a new Renaissance. Consider 2020 as an opportunity to look at life anew rather than as if it is wasted. Use it as an opportunity to develop new ideas and new ways of doing things that will make the future even brighter!

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