Ah, 2021. There was so much potential, but unfortunately, we experienced 2020 Volume 2. We witnessed the damaging consequences of Delta and the rising spread of Omicron. The vaccination race and the return to severe restrictions. It was a year that will once again be remembered for COVID. However, even within another challenging year, there were incredible moments of success, unity and courage. So, here are my Top 10 Moments of 2021!
10. The Sporting Moment of the Year
You may have already seen my recent post where I provided my Top 10 Sporting Moments of 2021 (https://thelevinelowdown.com/2021/12/28/the-sports-roundup-top-10-sporting-moments-of-2021/). In that post, you can find my favourite moment from each sport; however, for now, my favourite sporting moment of the year would have to be the Olympics. For two weeks, I sat at my desk and watched every single sport without a break. From swimming to BMX to handball and everything in between, the Olympics is the ultimate sporting competition that differentiates between the elite athletes worldwide. Albeit one year late, the Olympics produced iconic moments such as Elaine Thompson’s 100m victory and Emma McKeon’s record haul in the pool. The good news? We only have to wait 3 years until Paris 2024!
9. Music Saves 2021?
Another year of music that has provided an escape to millions of people struggling through the emotions of the pandemic. For artists, music is an outlet for creativity. For listeners, music is an outlet for relaxation, joy or reassurance. The music scene began to open again after a year of empty theatres, with various concerts popping up throughout the year. This blog’s guest music writer, Alex Driscoll, recently provided a comprehensive list of his Top 50 Albums of 2021, which you can find here – https://thelevinelowdown.com/2021/12/26/the-music-roundup-top-50-albums-of-2021/.
8. Vaccine Rollout
Firstly, the work of scientists around the world in developing vaccines is truly extraordinary! To have a vaccine less than a year after the emergence of a disease demonstrates how far humanity has come in the past century and provides hope of solutions to other diseases in the future! However, after the scientists completed their work, it was down to the governments to distribute the vaccines. Unsurprisingly, this became an incredibly politicised task, but eventually, widespread vaccination began all around the world. Further work is required to ensure that people in remote and disadvantaged countries are provided with the opportunity and education for immunisation, but overall, our path out of the pandemic has been secured thanks to vaccination.
7. Chaos in Afghanistan
Although this wasn’t a positive moment, it was a significant (albeit horrifying) moment in history that defined 2021. America decided to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to seize control of the Presidential Palace in Kabul. Unsurprisingly, media attention on Afghanistan since the takeover has been limited by the mainstream media. However, recent signs illustrate that the Taliban is still deciding whether to govern according to the needs and rights of the diverse Afghan population, or whether to rule based on their horrific ideology. The Taliban are attempting to achieve international legitimacy, but understand the conflict that presents with their Sharia law. Regardless, tension and anxiety remain for the people of Afghanistan, which needs to be addressed by the international community.
6. Increasing Anti-Chinese Government Sentiment
China, China, China. If you live in Australia, UK or US, you would’ve heard your government talk about China almost daily. There’s a lot of talking but thankfully, no action yet. The Chinese Government (and I want to make it extra clear that I’m criticising the Chinese government, NOT the Chinese people) are finally having to answer to their constant, horrific human rights abuses. It started this year with the Uyghur Genocide, where over one million Uyghurs are being held in secretive detention camps by the Chinese government. Then, the disappearance of Peng Shuai shocked the world as the Chinese government once again denied interference in the life of the Chinese citizen after she alleged sexual abuse against her by a politician. Now, various countries have decided to employ a political boycott on China for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Although I fear that the increasing tension between China and the West could lead to severe conflict, my hope is that the united push against the human rights abuses of China could finally lead to a change in action.
5. The Power of Social Media
Social media can create change. This year has witnessed creators on multiple apps utilising their platform to spread messages of positivity, peace and progress. The first person who comes to mind is Mr Beast. The YouTube sensation has continued to grow his following through his unbelievable capacity to provide to others. This year signalled a new push from the creator titled #TeamSeas, which aimed to raise over 30 million dollars to remove 30 million pounds of trash from the ocean. On Instagram, hundreds of thousands of users posted their experiences taking the vaccine and excitement after becoming vaccinated to encourage others to follow. Social media allowed us all to remain connected throughout lockdown and pursue ways to make real change in our world.
4. The Wonder of Pop Culture
There were so many unforgettable moments in pop culture this year that provided much need entertainment. We had Bernie Sanders mittens which captured the worlds attention at the inauguration of Joe Biden. Then, the initial economic concerns of the ship stuck in the Suez Canal turned into the perfect material for endless memes. Squid Game erupted into the scene in September with the Korean Sensation taking over Netflix and then YouTube through Mr Beast’s parody video, which has racked up over 180 million views. Finally, Britney Spears was freed from her conservatorship, another positive story in the endless world of pop culture.
3. Critical Law Reform
Two essential laws were passed in New South Wales that were overdue. Firstly, the NSW Government passed major sexual consent reforms where consent to sexual activity must be communicated by words or actions rather than assumed by participation. This reform enables justice for victims by requiring the onus of seeking consent to be on the accused. Moreover, the right for terminally ill people to end their lives passed the Lower House to allow a person to request a voluntary assisted death. The law was appropriately scrutinised and may be amended to ensure its continued effectiveness; however, it is still an important step forward as now all states in Australia have passed a voluntary assisted dying law.
2. Climate Progress…
Through an optimistic lens, there were positive advancements in combatting climate change this year; however, there is much more work to do. Extreme weather dominated the news in 2021, with record droughts, floods, and natural disasters. President Biden committed the US to re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement while China agreed to discontinue financing coal-fired power plants overseas. The long-awaited COP-26 meeting in Glasgow allowed countries to pledge to take steps to cut methane emissions, but pledges are only effective when they are accompanied by appropriate actions. More difficult decisions will present themselves to world leaders in the coming years, and it is up to each respective government to make the courageous decision to start prioritising protecting our climate, which is moments away from catastrophe.
1. The Health and Emergency Workers who Sacrificed Everything to Help Others
24 months of tireless work. I can’t express how grateful I am for the work of thousands of people worldwide who have sacrificed their lives to protect others. While we stayed at home, protected from danger, others stepped into the firefight, doing everything possible to save lives. From the health workers who continue to stand at COVID-19 testing facilities for hours a day to hospital staff and doctors caring for seriously ill patients in ICU, every person connected to the health industry deserves to be eternally recognised for their efforts. Because of you, we can have hope for what 2022 could bring.