Perhaps reflection on the year that has passed can now include some facets of life that deserve to be underscored as epic achievements. The challenges, the upheaval, the insanity that was the year 2020 included monumental peril and we humans are overcoming it. That’s worth celebrating. There is no way to ignore the severity of a virus that killed scores of people, or the magnitude of the year’s racial unrest. Those events tested mankind. They shook society to the core, caused economic shock-waves and have shaped new realities. Understood, but think about what’s happened in a continuum, one that starts before and extends beyond the current chaos.
Lead stories still count virus related deaths, refer to crises in emergency rooms, highlight travel restrictions, or the financial pain that has destroyed too many good people. It can all be overwhelming to watch, hear or read. Dread hangs in the air, intrudes into countless conversations and causes a heaviness that can weigh-down even the most optimistic thinking individuals. It is perfectly normal to react to all the negative noise, but it is human to break through obstacles that block paths to progress.
Great minds have developed vaccines for this virus with incredible speed. Naturally, there will be debate about side effects and efficacy but antidotes are rapidly becoming available. The virus that crushed nearly every activity you can imagine will be one more problem humans solved and people will prevail once again.
A centerpiece of the civil rights movement has been about the ability to overcome, someday. Could it be that the day is upon us? The 2020 race riots, the looting, the killing were all horrible to watch. The nation was tearing apart. It was impossible to ignore. Then athletes, activists, scholars and many others insisted on a different message. They offered reminders about injustice and how it is a way of life for some people based on pigmentation. That leadership focused attention to a core American problem and started discussions that have helped the nation, tremendously.
Did anyone know that technology would add so much color to all this social discourse, then provide such a wonderful conduit for new ways to express a shared humanity? Technology helped to show that, what impacts some of us, can impact all of us. You could watch it, right there on your computer – colleagues, friends, relatives all isolated, but finding a way to stay together. There was a shared spirit, a connectedness that pulled people close to each other, so we could Zoom from a distance. Crazy. People stayed in touch, found ways to share good times, restructured their lives and discovered ways to thrive.
This past year has been difficult, different and historic. There’s no denying that and you can perceive it however you choose. You may shape your impression any way you wish, which could have something to say about your outlook for 2021. Will you say humanity lost its way or found a way?