2020 has been a flat year. With no significant events or gatherings that usually mark my days each year, this has been compounded by the fact that Singapore only has mono season, a year of nothing. However, for a year of nothing, this was a year of intense emotional roller coaster.
We as a nation went through our SG version of a lockdown, from April to June.
That was the first time as an adult, I felt a sense of calmness I’ve not felt before in my home city. Despite them being the longest days, there was a certain serenity knowing that almost everyone was in the same situation, perhaps it was the competition edge tapering off me, or it could have just been boredom dulling my senses. Maybe it was everything one person and his multitude of emotions all rolled into one. I call it de-socializing stress. The consequence of isolation. A blend of no human contact and the yearning for contact and intimacy. Or it could have been watching too much Netflix and TikTok at one go.
Singapore managed the pandemic relatively well in spite of its large number of cases amongst the migrant workers. Early on, way back in April, the government patted itself on its back for our low number of cases and deaths due to the virus, and we were a global shining example of COVID19 crisis management, until the terrible conditions with which our migrant workers are housed in, caught up with all of us.
Ironic, it took an invisible virus to show us how they lived, stacked up to 20 per room. It took the authorities 7 months to test all the workers living in dormitories and are still in the process of improving their living conditions, but importantly
we are on the mend, both from the pandemic and also to improving the living conditions of our vital nation builders. Despite all the pain and suffering, mask or no mask, there is a lot to be proud of in how Singapore and we as its people went through the worst of the pandemic.
Respect and recognition have surfaced out of this flat year, mostly for our essential workers, not only for the ones that work in the health and medical sectors but also the ones that facilitate our comfortable 1st world lifestyle. Our rubbish was cleared everyday as always.
Something else surfaced this year and it was the ugliness of racism. Brought to light by the killing of George Floyd in America, once again by the hands of the law, this time with a knee. It sparked a global confrontation and conversation, amplified by social media. There were unprecedented large protest marches in support of BLM and also protesting police brutality all around the western world including south America and Africa.
The unfortunate event triggered a much needed catalyst for a place like Singapore to have talks on race in the open, something the majority of us are apathetic to or totally ignorant of and therefore this topic is usually met with awkward incoherence or denial that racism and privilege happens in Singapore. We are a multi-faceted society with many different races and cultures and we should do more to show inclusivity especially in fashion and the arts. Life is a lifelong education and it starts with me.
I always knew the fresher air, the empty roads and the audible bird songs were always going to be temporary, but one can hope. To hope that this respite from human activity would rejuvenate the earth and awaken the good sense of everyone, even the doubters, that this should have more permanence in our lifetime and we can arrest the devastation of climate change and secure a better future for our children. Unfortunately that is not going to happen, humans exist as an aggressive, acquisitive species. Studies have already shown that China’s traffic is back to pre-pandemic levels, Brazil has accelerated their destruction of the Amazon jungle like there’s no tomorrow and America has suspended all enforcement of air and water regulations; it is as if we couldn’t tolerate seeing the earth breath for two to three months, we have to choke it back to where it was with a vengeance.
While a global pandemic that sickened millions and destroyed livelihoods is certainly not the way to make the planet healthier for us to live on, it showed us what was in reach with just a decisive action. There is certainly hope that the world devoid of human activity in just a couple of months have shown recovery, clear evidence to show that a definitive and resolute plan by world leaders can change the course of over-industrialisation and a disastrous future for all mankind and earth.
I want to see past COVID19, see past the human selfishness that this pandemic has sipped out, and embrace the empathy, compassion and respect that have surfaced instead and carry it on forward. I most of all, want to focus on human’s most precious commodity, creativity.
Creativity is taking scraps from a factory and carefully laying them out and upcycled into a piece of art tapestry, beautiful enough for all to admire. Creativity is someone dedicated enough to turn agriculture waste of pineapple leaves into material fibre to be spun into and weaved into fabrics for everyday wear.
I want to be inspired by the creation of music, one person’s design with electronic sounds and beats and inspiring another to design and make endlessly, from one end of the world, inspiring another. I want to be able to communicate someone else’s artistic point of view from collaborating and communicating creativity, translating that into another form for appreciation. I want to let a picture that is so mesmerising that it’s able to transport you to another place or just talk to a person that has the goodness and mindfulness that you are able to cut through all the noise.
2021 will be such a year. Happy holidays everyone.