“It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf
2020 has been a rough year for all of us. You can say that again. That, in fact is the understatement of the century.
In the span of just ten months (with everything taken into consideration, January and February were relatively normal), we’ve endured a terrible pandemic that left over a million across the world dead, a steep economic downturn coupled with an unprecedented full-scale lockdown, widespread social unrest and an incredibly divisive presidential election marred with confusion and irregularities.
By all accounts 2020 was a downright dreadful year. It was filled with disease, death and destruction. Our nation was literally burning as the media imposed visions of fear upon us. Optimism was nowhere to be found. Businesses, many that had been open for decades, were shuttered. People were cast out of their homes and jobs. Governors dined at expensive French bistros while average Americans struggled to feed their families. A corrupt Congress chose to bicker and play “he said, she said,” over providing substantial relief to the people. In my former homeland of New York, the elderly were neglected and forced into nursing homes. Refrigerated trucks lined the streets of the five boroughs, doubling as morgues. Loved ones were not able to attend the funerals of the deceased out of fear they would contract the COVID virus themselves.
They say “every cloud has a silver lining” – even the ones that seem the darkest. There are many positive things we can take from 2020. It was a year of much needed reflection on both ourselves and the state of the world. As I am writing this on December 31, 2020, I am a completely different man than I was on December 31, 2019. For starters, I finally achieved my lifelong dream of relocating to Florida this year – I officially became a resident of the Sunshine State in late October just days before my 24th birthday. I am no longer working at a grocery store – my day job is now at a fast-growing international technology company. Also, 2020 was the year I met my business partners Nicole, Robert, Brad and Rachel, with whom I co-founded our start-up blog-slash-podcast Pardon Our Politics. I worked on several political campaigns and have made connections with dozens of people from all across the country. While I was under self-quarantine for a month and a half in the spring, I worked on yet another exciting project, which I am keeping secret for now, but will release to the world in a few months. However, all these superficial changes, while positive developments in my life, are dwarfed by my dramatic ideological evolution in the summer.
Simply put, 2020 was a huge “red pill” for me. I am of course making a reference to the famous scene of The Matrix, where the main character Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) is faced with a choice between taking a blue or a red pill. As Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) explains to him, if he takes the blue pill “the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.” But if he takes the red pill, he learns the truth – “you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes,” as Morpheus puts it. This is exactly what happens to me. For the beginning part of the year, I was incredibly trusting of the mainstream media and the political and academic establishment. I believed all their lies and sneered at my family members and friends for not falling into their traps. My first several posts here as well as my first few POP articles kind of reflect this (for example, I used to believe that lockdowns were good, necessary and “pro-life,” now I’m probably the most anti-lockdown person there is not named JP Sears). However, my stance on what we should (and shouldn’t) do to combat the pandemic was not the only thing that was “red-pilled” – I shockingly went from hating President Trump and believing that he was a no good, very bad absolutely terrible orange human being (and did I mention, he’s orange – ORANGE MAN BAD!) to being a proud MAGA hat-owning Trump voter. It was a journey that took many months of research and a bevy of conversations with people across many states and from all walks of life – I wrote about it here and here.
“Auld Lang Syne” written by 18th Century Scottish poet Robert Burns has become synonymous with New Year’s. It’s a tune we sing every year while giving little thought to the meaning of its opening line. It’s a simple yet profound and almost ominous question Burns asks: “should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” Should we forget and discard the past or use it as a learning experience to improve ourselves and shape the future?
See you in 2021.