What a year it has been...
December 16, 2020
Take yourself back to January last year, before any of this madness started, before the word Coronavirus was a household term we used or thought about every…single…day. Think back to before Kobe Bryant’s helicopter went down killing him, his daughter, and others. Think back before George Floyd was murdered in the street by the very same people who are supposed to protect. Think back to the moment when you were filled with the thoughts of what 2020 would bring, high school and college graduations, births, family trips, gatherings with friends, trips to the gym, marathons, sporting events, or catching the latest greatest movie with a big bucket of popcorn. The list is long. All of these were stolen from us from something we cannot see, hear, or feel…until it is too late.
My intention is not to depress you, but rather to have you see that while 2020 bit the big one in many ways, we should also see it as a period of awakening and also as a period of hope. While the shutdown created chaos and loss for many, there were silver linings. It brought moms and dads home to spend more time engaging with their children. Countless times while out walking my dog, I saw dads throwing footballs with their kids in the yard on a Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., or kindergarteners learning the art and skill of gardening. Zoom allowed us to connect with people across this country, some of whom we’d not spoken to in years. While many small businesses struggled, some were highly innovative and thrived, a little small business in my neighborhood that sells beads and beading materials as well as classes, shifted to making masks. And while there was (and still is) deeply broken hearts and souls over the loss to too many unarmed black men (and women), this country finally woke up and we’ve made some small, but significant strides to address racism. I’m not suggesting we celebrate 2020, but rather see the silver linings and the progress made during this time period. Here are a few more:
- Science has been validated with the development of the vaccine
- White people marched in the streets protesting George Floyd’s, Brianna Taylor’s, and other senseless deaths of black men and women together in solidarity to protest and say, “enough is enough”
- Young people came out to vote in record numbers
- More people voted than ever in our history
- Many animal shelters found their cages empty due to high volumes of adoption
- Companies stepped up to ensure urban underprivileged children had access to the internet and to digital devices
- Teachers are no longer taken for granted
- Due to less traffic on our roads and highways, across this globe, for the first time in decades, in some city’s smog temporarily disappeared
- Companies across the U.S. adopted diversity and inclusion statements
- Our essential workers finally were recognized as important and valued
- Astronauts are in space again
- The masses got to enjoy “Hamilton” the movie without paying hundreds of dollars per ticket
- Drive-in Theaters made a comeback
- We started using our hands again while gardening, baking, and crafting
- Crayola introduced a set of skin color crayons to match the beautiful skin tones of children across this globe
I am sure you have your own list of experiences and things that made 2020 tolerable. And the list above does not begin to capture the human spirit of giving that we have seen across this country and the world.
My hope for 2021, which will also be filled with more challenges and sadness, is that you can pull out the moments of joy and peace as we support one another, strive to contribute to the common good, lift up those who need it, and continue in our fight to pull down the walls and bars of racism and exclusion.
Seeing the joy in difficult times give us the energy to continue the good fight.
May you find peace and joy in this holiday season.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Dean, Graduate College
Assistant Clinical Professor & Department Head, Goodwin College