"Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man." - Benjamin Franklin
A Year Like No Other
Few will cry when the clock strikes twelve on New Year's eve...
As it draws to a close let's reflect on some of the 2020 uniqueness that doesn't regularly make the nightly news:
From the perspective of an investment advisor - one of the unique aspects of 2020 is the financial markets' behavior in response to the pandemic. The speed of decline in March was the fastest in history (22 trading days for a decline of over 30 percent). This decline was then followed by the fastest recovery to a new high ever - only 121 trading days to again reach record highs compared to an average historical time of 1,542 trading days! If you took an extended vacation without checking the news you would have missed all the fear and excitement!
Another unique aspect of this year has been a huge increase in both the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. These included a record amount of fires (which continue in California) as well as a record number of Atlantic hurricanes. Without taking a politically charged stance of the cause or source of these natural disasters - let's just agree to observe that record numbers and intensity of natural disasters in two categories and one year is "unique" and something we'd like to avoid in subsequent years!
Somewhat below the radar is the fraying of the social fabric of our society which took place in 2020 because of other events which do not need to be named. I have noticed greater anger and frustration directed towards those who do not agree with strong personally held views than I have previously observed. I wonder if some of that is a consequence of these "conversations" happening sometimes anonymously and frequently without looking into the eyes of those with opposing views over social media. The tendency to view someone who does not agree with us as a "loser" sitting in underwear at the computer in their mother's basement does not help!
There is something about having developed a personal relationship (even if not strong) with the person with whom you disagree that tends to moderate expressed views and give others the benefit of the doubt. Also the opportunity to learn from those with opposing perspectives and develop real dialogue as opposed to heated arguments with hurled epithets.
As we head closer into the Christmas holiday my hope is that we can be more tolerant of those with whom we disagree. Instead of watching TV which match our own political and social leanings let's do our best to read from sources of information that don't match our own political inclinations - especially if it causes us a degree of discomfort to understand those with views that differ. Let's not assume that those who don't agree with us are have lower IQ's or are hateful or ignorant. Let's be confident enough in our own closely held beliefs and inclinations to accept those of a differing view and be able to have conversations with mutual respect and goodwill.
Let us gratefully ring out 2020 and ring in - and be part of, a better and more hopeful 2021. Tick, tock, tick tock...