Reminiscent of Y2K, everyone seems to be hoping that on 12:01 AM of January 1, 2021, something will happen. It’s the belief that the socio-economic-political nightmare of 2020 will end. But unlike the non-event of Y2K, there is the very real possibility that nothing will change –or even worse, send people into a deeper rut.
It is hard even to begin to list what 2020 has wrought. As I write this, the coronavirus pandemic continues to kill roughly the same number of people as 9/11 on a daily basis. Some of whom were beloved leaders and public figures. Millions have suddenly plunged into poverty – causing food lines to grow longer than testing lines. Our youth are experiencing their childhood deprived of proper education and cherished memories like proms, graduations, parties, and awards that normally commemorate happy stages of life. These are just some of the most pressing issues. Many overarching problems and inequalities not only continue to exist but are often exacerbated by the situation. The country is crying out for decisive action, but despite this crippling urgency, our government at-large is stuck in ineffective gridlock.
But, thankfully, our fiery democracy refused to die. The Supreme Court upheld its responsibility to rule on the Constitution by refusing to hear President Trump’s bogus efforts to undermine the presidential election. Despite the flagrant malfeasance, Americans weathered voter suppression efforts to elect a new President by over eight million votes. In the vacuum of federal leadership, private industry stepped up to fill the gap. The medical and science communities, in particular, performed a miracle by developing effective vaccines in less than a year. Finally, though they were not covered enough by the media, there were innumerable stories of humanity and heroism from everyday Americans.
Instead of the usual mundane resolutions that people know will not survive January, it is important that Americans identify ways and means that will help people recover more quickly from 2020. There are, at least, four things each American can list as New Year’s resolutions for 2021 to COPE with the negative impacts of 2020:
Count your blessings. The fact that one can read this article is worth thanks for a certain level of physical health, education, and mental competency. Despite any personal losses, one can be thankful for family members and friends, who have not been stricken by or have recovered from COVID. People can recognize and commend the victories from the small acts of someone picking up groceries for an elderly neighbor to the miraculous acts of others developing vaccines that will save millions.
Open one’s mind to different people and different opinions. The blind loyalty to one issue, one candidate, one party, one mindset has resulted in division, hate, and our collective descent into blistering division. Rather than backing away from the complicated challenges we are faced with, we should strive towards progress towards solving, these problems. In 2021, attention has to be paid to one’s mental and emotional health, as well as physical health.
Plan on not getting “back to normal.” There is no longer a “normal.” All businesses must adapt to new modes of communication, operation, and ways of attracting and satisfying new customers. Business owners should gather the best minds from their workforce and craft new business models – ones flexible and adaptable enough to endure prolonged periods of remote work. While changes like these will cause initial headaches and potential losses, in the long-term they could usher in a leaner, more cost-saving way of doing business.
End discrimination. In a war for survival, a country needs every warm body. We should no longer tolerate assumptions about someone’s capability based on race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, political party, geographic location, or anything else. After all, this virus is a great equalizer – affecting the lives of all Americans indiscriminately. But this virus has also revealed all the different people who have helped us endure this strife: a female scientist who helped create the vaccine, a white fisherman who provided dry ice, a senior pilot flying the FedEx plane, a Black UPS driver, an Indo-American doctor giving the shot, and so on.
If 2020 was arguably the worst year of the 21st century, but 2021 could be the greatest if Americans are determined to cope.