The Unreliable Guide To…2021
2020 was the Chinese Year of the Rat, traditionally a creature long associated with plague, so I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised how things turned out. 2021 is the Year of the Ox, a creature characterised by hard work, but also reliability – surely what we are all craving after a year of uncertainty! It’s also the Age of Aquarius, which makes me think of rainbow-clothed hippies dancing in a forest – a happy thought.
Political science researcher Professor Andrew Latham believes, “People are beginning to understand that the little changes COVID-19 has already ushered in or accelerated – telemedicine, remote work, social distancing, the death of the handshake, online shopping, the virtual disappearance of cash and so on – have begun to change their way of life.” He thinks this is only the start of a massive shift in the way we live. I’m reluctant to make any predictions after last year’s bunch of surprises, but here are my hopes, dreams and resolutions for 2021.
After a century of rampant consumerism we finally realise that things do not equal happiness. We reject the shopping mall as a legitimate day out. Instead, more and more of us start growing our own food and simplifying our lives. Marie Kondo becomes a fully fledged religious leader with billions of followers. People who obsessively shop are seen as greedy social deviants in need of a mental health intervention. Global power brokers elect Greta Thunberg as their leader and they work with her to tackle climate change, empty the soil of pollution and to fight the invasion of micro plastics into our bodies. All countries unite to make the climate their number one priority, funding new clean energy sources and banning fossil fuels. Success is no longer judged by economic growth but climate health. Hallelujah!
We realise that the pandemic has upended our economic system and altered our view of the world. Instead of ‘I’ we start thinking of ‘we’. We understand that we are all connected and determine to work together for the greater good. Politicians who try and buy our votes with tax cuts and lies are rejected. Instead we all turn to real leaders who tell the truth (ha!) and will guide us through the next few decades with level heads and a sense of the future. We think globally and, with small acts of kindness, start believing in our united power to end suffering.
Surprisingly, thinking of community instead of self makes us all feel a lot happier. Parents forced to spend time with their kids during lockdown realise they actually quite like these small people they have created. Offices go out of fashion, more and more people become techno nomads, deciding that work will no longer define who they are and where they live. Spending up to twenty hours a week commuting to work is seen as a strange anachronism. Office buildings are repurposed as housing and the CBD thrives as a new community.
Finally, The Unreliable Guide would like to remind you of Gandhi’s old chestnut, which is still well worth a roast: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Let’s stop thinking we can buy our way to happiness. Let’s be kinder, greener, happier. Let’s focus on the now. Yeah man.