2020 was inundating and overwhelming. There were catastrophes of death, disaster, illness, destruction, tragedy, and loss. Crushing economic adversities resulted from halts in business, job reductions and losses, and company closures. A persistent political, sociological, and socioeconomic divide became cataclysmic in a pandemic year when fueled by a growing disproportion and disparity in equity, justice, and equality. All these things brought on an onslaught of emotions: fear, despair, turbulence, anguish, confusion, heartbreak, anger, grief, unsettlement, loneliness, insecurity, and hopelessness. Phew! It took a whole lot of descriptors to befit a whole lot of year.
It’s hard to fathom next year. The pandemic will no doubt continue, and no one is certain how it will look. Opinions vary regarding vaccine production, so our more immediate hope will likely be for medicines that will lessen the most serious effects of the disease. Until it’s controlled and then eliminated, we need to continue safety measures and our empathy and compassion for victims and their families, frontline workers, and anyone doing their best to stay safe and healthy.
While researchers work on the pandemic, the rest of us can focus on other critical issues. An inability to effectively address climate change could cost more lives worldwide than the pandemic. The urgency is apparent by the increased strength and occurrence of natural disasters—earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, lightning, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides—and changing weather patterns. We’ve seen the consequences in the form of devastating floods, droughts, and fires, and we’ve learned that the melting of the polar ice caps affects us all. The future of the earth and its inhabitants is in our hands; we must accept responsibility and act because it’s deadly serious. The movement for change is occurring, but we can do better. Conversations need to turn into actions that will lead to solutions.
It’s surprising that something could overshadow a pandemic, but horrific stories of racism did just that. At the forefront is increased awareness because of greater access to video. Violence toward those in custody or being taken into custody by individual police officers has been in full view, and we are able to see how actions or nonactions sometimes result in death. The greater awareness has resulted in some progress in the form of dismissals, arrests, and prison sentences, but not nearly enough. Far too many who commit hate crimes go free, and in some inexplicable instances, they’re praised.
Community members and leaders must demand change, and police officers should hold their peers to higher standards. Call out those who aren’t living up to expectations, and strive to do and be better. It has to happen because it’s life and death. For the rest of us, we can continue to talk, post, and march about it. We must stay on task until there are solutions for all issues of inclusion, equity, and diversity. We create the change.
All of these things are difficult, but not insurmountable. They’ll take time and consistent attention. We cannot get discouraged. We must persevere. There will likely be times in the process when we fail, but there will also be progress and success that we can build upon. And it’s imperative we remember that we achieve our best outcome when we join and support one another. We’re better and stronger together, and this is the path that will incur the least number of battle scars.
I wish you a safe and healthy holiday and new year filled with an abundance of hope and success stories.