With luck, 2020 will go down as the year several things hit rock bottom: the number of outright lies and vacuous ploys that mar politics, the irrationality of the world's response to crises, and the enormous gulf of inequality between the haves and the have-nots.
With a lot of luck, and then some. But here's hoping.
The narcissistic US president who would rather spread hate and division and potentially stir up a civil war to maintain his dynastic grip on what was (arguably) once a great democracy clearly tops the list in the political category, but New Zealand merits a dishonourable mention.
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Taking a literal leaf from Donald Trump's Bible-waving, National leader Judith Collins' superficial pilgrim-at-the-altar posing for the press after voting last weekend was enough to make my stomach churn. In her all-blue and with hands perfectly clasped, she seemed to be channelling that icon of her professed faith, the Virgin Mary.
I doubt anyone was fooled for an instant. Nor, I suspect, did the bottle of sanitiser on the pew in front of her do her or the church much good. Some taints cannot be erased.
And before you wail: no, I'm not attacking her religion; that's entirely her affair. Which is where it should remain. By long-standing tradition, unlike the US, religion plays no overt part in this country's mainstream politics, and let's pray it stays that way.
We're a secular country, in the main, and we like it like that. We want politicians who vote on merit – or lip-service to it – not on the intangibles of faith.
Certainly none of the prideful posturing, be it for religious or business or other power mongering reasons, has had any effect when it comes to addressing the immediate crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, and nor should anyone have expected it could.
That millions evidently did believe platitudes and parades might somehow fight a virus – as if it were some heinous radical you could train a gun sight on, or drive away with a few abuse-laden curses – amply illustrates the dearth of rationality today.
This time we Kiwis get a bouquet – but the flowers are wilting, fast, given our resistance to admitting the even larger crisis of climate change bearing down upon us is not similarly worthy of emergency-level response.
Meanwhile, one small but immensely powerful segment of global society is laughing fit to burst. While most of the world's population has striven simply to stay in work or at worst alive, the now-2189 billionaires have, between April and July alone, increased their wealth by some 27.5 per cent.
Yep. In just three months this year, the 0.00002-percenters raked in a whopping near-$3 trillion to bring their collective worth to US$10.2 trillion.
If that's not a marker for the lowest we can go as supposedly "smart" creatures, then I shudder to imagine what might be.
Because we have all allowed this. In our collective imagination, we have gone from believing in the divine right of kings, to believing in science and reason, to believing in global corporates and money as god. And seeing those with the most as the holiest.
From peasants who could not conceive of power, to uneducated masses who felt removed from power, to cogs in the machine incapable of rising to power. Or only doing so by placebo: giving to the rich.
But as pre-eminent writer Ursula K LeGuin observed, "The power of capitalism may seem inescapable, but so did the divine right of kings."
It's time we imagined something else. Something holistic, and caring, and collective.
Imagine that. And save the world.
* Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.