If there were any way possible, many people would certainly like to wipe the year 2020 off the calendar and delete it forever from the sequence of chronology in time.

This year has brought so much misery and trauma to the population of the planet. Armenia and Armenians not only shared the pain of the global family but received an additional dose of suffering.

Global pandemics happen regularly every hundred or so years. Therefore, it was the luck of our generation to witness the horrors about which we had only read in history books.

Precedents of global pandemics have been recorded dating back to the 14th century, when the world population was afflicted by the Black Death, as the bubonic plague was known, and which eventually took 50 million lives.

In earlier times in history, pandemics hit the population of a certain region, but did not spread to other areas of the world because populations were sedentary and could generally not travel beyond a certain distance.

Anthropologists and historians, for example, have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of the extinction of the Maya population in Mexico. Scarcity of water, overpopulation and wars are cited as probable causes. However, it may also have been the result of a localized pandemic which the Mayans were unable to spread further.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

The global impact of the Black Death in the 14th century is attributed to the activities of the Silk Road, which extended from China to Europe, through the Middle East. It was an active trade route for people and goods traveling long distances and along with their goods, the travelers brought this disease with them.

The Spanish Flu, which plagued the world between 1918 and 1920, was certainly exacerbated by the mobility of people. It is reported that it infected 500,000,000 people globally, taking the lives of 50 million. During that pandemic, the US lost 675,000 citizens.

In the age of jet travel, the COVID-19 pandemic took less than six months to cover the entire world. Already, it has cost 1.6 million deaths, with more than 300,000 in the US.

The spread of the virus brought with it death, confusion and fear, because no known cure or treatment has been available. Only containment was used for prevention; masks, social distancing and washing hands were recommended. And those measures became politicized.

President Donald Trump challenged that advice and that challenge took immediately the form of a political stand. It is believed that cautionary measures were ignored to spare businesses and the economy and above all, to achieve herd immunity. After ruining the lives of many families, it looks like the disease may subside thanks to a wave of vaccines that were approved recently.

Many countries have developed vaccines, the first being the one produced by Pfizer and BioNTech. Just approved by the FDA is the vaccine by Moderna. Although scientists claim they are both similar, I put my faith in the second one because of national pride, as the company’s board is chaired by Dr. Noubar Afeyan.

In addition to the pandemic, in 2020, the US experienced another spectacle during the presidential election.

In elections, more often than not, the incumbent is favored to win. However, during President Trump’s administration, the country has become so polarized that a record number of voters went to the polls. It would be a disservice to the truth to state that Mr. Trump did not enjoy popularity. An unprecedented number of devoted fans —74 million, to be exact — have an undying devotion to him and cast their ballots for him. In this polarized mood, his opponent got a record amount, 81 million.

Trump has yet to concede losing the election and congratulate President-Elect Joseph Biden, for the simple reason that Mr. Trump does not believe in losing. Further drama is ahead of us until (and perhaps after) the inauguration on January 20.

Back in Armenia, the healthcare system has been overloaded to the point of collapse, because of the rampant pandemic. This situation now is compounded by the outcome of the Karabakh war, which sent to the hospitals 10,000 wounded soldiers. A total of 5000 Armenian soldiers lost their lives, leaving mayhem behind. This has been the worst catastrophe to hit Armenia since the Genocide, because the loss of lives has also been coupled with the loss of territory.

As tremendous as the losses are, perhaps they pale against the uncertain future that awaits Armenia now.

Armenia has become mortally wounded in the process of Russia and Turkey settling scores. Many pundits who had discounted Turkey’s Pan-Turanian designs as fiction have suddenly realized that Turkish forces are at Armenia’s borders, demanding access through Armenia to the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan.

The resulting turmoil is too challenging for the Pashinyan regime to handle. The ensuing confusion, the acrimonious debates and finger pointing have not left any room for a compromise. Armenia’s political chaos has become a laughingstock for the leadership in Baku and Ankara.

The opposition labels Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as a traitor. But certainly he is not; he is indeed a patriot, but he is an incompetent leader. His Velvet Revolution failed to deliver on its promises. Of course, the uncontrollable pandemic was responsible for the economic collapse there but over and above the pandemic, his team failed miserably in terms of diplomacy and in improving the economy prior to COVID.

Through an ill-advised campaign to seize illegally acquired wealth from the oligarchs, he effectively drove the entrepreneurs out of the country along with their capital, while on the other hand failing to attract new investments from abroad.

The parliamentary opposition, comprising Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia, are far from wielding any political power.

And a group of seventeen parties, not represented in the parliament, have formed an opposition front headed by former prime minister, Vazgen Manoukyan. But behind that group, the shadow of the former regime is looming to scare away the majority of the voters.

If Pashinyan has effectively achieved anything, it is demonizing the old regime’s representatives and polarizing society.

The population in Armenia is now left licking its wounds. Confusion abounds. Many people are asking for Pashinyan’s resignation, without pointing out a viable alternative.

President Armen Sarkissian also is calling for Pashinyan’s resignation, hoping he himself can lead during the transition period, assisted by technocrats, but his drive has not gotten much traction, either.

The only silver lining behind the pandemic is that it has halted the emigration. The danger of Armenia’s depopulation is very real once the pandemic subsides.

The Christmas and New Year season is traditionally a period of of rejoicing. But this season comes with desperation and trauma in Armenia and around the world.

At midnight on December 31, we will all celebrate the coming New Year. It will be time to finally say good riddance and farewell to 2020, and hope for a much better year.


Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: