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Feature: For many Americans, 2020 truly been "something out of a Hollywood movie"
From:Xinhua  |  2021-01-01 06:26

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by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- When iconic rock band the Grateful Dead sang the lyrics "what a long, strange trip it's been" nearly 50 years ago, they would have never anticipated what a bizarre year 2020 has been.


The year has truly been something out of a Hollywood movie: the COVID-19 pandemic swept the United States, causing some states to impose draconian lockdowns.

Nationwide protests against racial injustice followed the police killing of black man George Floyd. In some cities such as Portland, Oregon, protests turned into months' nightly riots.

2020 also witnessed one of the most divisive presidential elections in history with record voter turnout. Sentiments of confrontation and division boiled over the pandemic, protests and other major issues during the year as Americans were seen profoundly divided along partisan lines.

When Americans were asked to describe the year 2020 in a single word in a recent survey, nearly one in four of them used "awful,""terrible," or "horrible."

The USA Today/Suffolk University poll of 1,000 registered voters taken on Dec. 16-20 also found that 15 percent of the respondents used expletives, and that nearly all of them cited words that reflected strain or pain.

The government's response to the pandemic has caused the rift between rich and poor to widen.

Professional class people's stock market portfolios have surged dramatically, as stocks from companies that help employees work from home have climbed sky-high. They enjoy a more relaxed work atmosphere while collecting a paycheck at home. Their kids benefit from private instruction from expensive, in-house tutors.

But many working class people have been reduced to poverty due to the lockdowns. Some who were employed just a few months ago are wondering where their next meal will come from. Their kids are out of school and falling behind, as children cannot focus well in an online learning environment.

The draconian lockdowns have cost the nation trillions of U.S. dollars in stimulus money. President Donald Trump signed the 900-billion-dollar stimulus bill into law on Sunday evening. It is the second-largest relief deal after the 2-trillion-dollar CARES Act that Congress approved in March.


Many opine that the pandemic brought out the best and the worst in people.

Mark, who is in sales in Virginia and declined to give his last name, told Xinhua the pandemic has accelerated people's direction in life.

People who are selfish became more so. Those who are generous have ramped up their generosity. Hard-working people have become more hard-working. Lazy people have become more lazy -- some have not got a haircut for a year, reasoning that they are not going to the office so there's no need to bother with personal grooming. Others have gained a lot of weight on the same rationale.

Ronald Beamer, a chemist in Pennsylvania, told Xinhua the pandemic brought out the worst in people because it "created unnecessary division and paranoia in our society" but brought out the best because it "motivated people to help others."

Communities and local businesses have stepped up more than ever before to donate to food banks. People are sending cash to friends who they know are in financial trouble this holiday season.

In an op-ed published earlier this month in USA Today, top Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg noted a new survey from OptionB.Org and SurveyMonkey, which found that nine out of 10 people said they helped others this year.

The list included running errands, sending care packages, or calling regularly to check in, Sandberg noted, adding that more than 60 percent said they did more to help others this year than they've ever done.

Sally English, a retiree in the U.S. state of New Jersey, told Xinhua the pandemic "brought out the worst in people who are alone and watch doomsday news."

Grace Kim, an office worker in the D.C. area, said the pandemic "brought out the need for more analytical thinking."


As the nation rings in 2021 and a vaccine is being distributed, many Americans are looking toward the future.

Kim said that going forward, it's important for Americans to have some savings to get through the next pandemic.

English, the retiree, echoed those thoughts, adding that it's important to eat right and make provisions for the elderly, in a bid to ward off any future illness.

Beamer said personal savings and good hygiene are important lessons to remember from 2020.

Many are also tired of news and politics, and realized this year that nothing can be gained by arguing over political candidates. That will only help the media and politicians reach their goals, not average citizens, some Americans opined.

"People are sick of politics and want normalcy again," said Mark, in sales. "At our house, we turned off the news and watch the Olympics channel now." Enditem