Queen Elizabeth II (How often have I referred to her in this blog?) referred to 1992 as an annis horribilis. Her Majesty likes to project an image of someone not given to hyperbole, so perhaps she was just trying to show her former tutors that she still remembered some of the Latin they taught her.
Now, to be fair, I would think it was a pretty bad year if a fire destroyed part of my house. And I wouldn't look back too fondly on a year in which one of my relatives, however distant, committed suicide. But the other "tragedies," which include divorces, infidelities and the like were merely instances of Royal Family members showing that, well, maybe they're not so different from the rest of us.
In comparison, many people--and large parts of the world--suffered real tragedies, mainly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because of natural disasters and other disruptions to what was considered "normal."
One can hope that the coming year will be better. For one thing, Donald Trump lost his bid for a second presidential term. For another, vaccines against COVID-19 are making their way into the world.
What really gives me hope, however, is the knowledge that tragedies and disasters are opportunities to learn, and there are always resilient people. (Meeting Cambodians who survived the Pol Pot regime and Greeks who have come through wars, invasions and economic crises taught me much about both.) One example of resilience includes the people who got on their bikes during the pandemic, when mass transit systems shut down or cut back their services and other forms of recreation weren't available. I hope that the new "bike boom" shows planners, policy-makers as well as ordinary citizens that the future need not (actually, can't) be as auto- and fossil fuel-centric as the past century or so have been.
If nothing else, I hope this year helps us to learn that we must--and, I believe, can and will--learn and change.