• Betty Girardeau

Looking Back

The calendar reminder on my computer regularly reminds of up-coming holidays and events. This morning it needlessly reminded me that tomorrow is New Year's Eve. I have seldom been one to party on that evening and have generally felt that it was just another day on the calendar, although the last day of the last month of the year. But 2020 has been a strange year to say the least, and, while I am certainly not going to any parties tomorrow evening, I will be unusually grateful to have made it through the year. I can't help looking back over the last twelve months. How innocently we all looked forward into the new year with so many plans of things to do and places to go, believing that life was going to go on as it always had. We naively approached a new year and a new decade believing that our lives would continue as they always had, because how could it be otherwise? A new and disturbing virus had shown up in far away China, yet there was no reason to think that it would have much impact on us. In fact, as the early days and weeks of 2020 passed, we were told repeatedly that we were safe from it and that our leaders had it "under control" and there was nothing to worry about. By late February and early March, however, it became apparent that we did indeed have need to be greatly concerned. Life as most of us had always conducted it was changing rapidly. Planned trips were cancelled. Work at home orders were sent out by employers. Children began virtual classrooms at home. Our individual worlds became smaller. And, unless we wanted to believe in conspiracy theories and mixed messages from our leaders, it was evident that we needed to start taking care of ourselves in ways that we had never had to do before. Social distancing and wearing masks for most of us became the order of the day if we wanted to leave our home and have to mix with others. By summer, as the number of sick and dying continued to increase, so did long pent up frustrations about the inequality of how people have been treated in this country. More and more it became obvious that the people of our country are deeply divided. We have historically been a nation that pulled together in times of trials and crisis, and it has been this pulling together that has made us strong. But not in 2020. I see us having been weakened, not just by a virus that continues to take lives because there are those who think masks and social distancing are for everyone else but them, but also by an inept leadership that seems to take pride in dividing the populace into "warring factions." We are all wanting to see an end to this year. But I don't think we can move forward positively into 2021 unless we take stock of 2020 and look back and learn from what has happened this year and be willing to take personal responsibility when that is necessary. Turning the calendar page to a new month and a new year is not going to magically make things better. Our feelings of personal safety and well-being have been deeply shaken right along with concern for the very future of our country and the values we have always taken for granted. We need to learn how to pull together again, to really care about the health and safety of others and not be too proud or arrogant about social distancing, wearing masks, and even getting vaccinated. We need to become more respectful of each other regardless of our color, sex, and political views. We even need to question ourselves more about what we believe and why we believe it. Perhaps some of those beliefs have been misplaced. We have a little better than twenty-four hours to do some real reflecting about the last twelve months. And maybe do some honest soul searching. Take the time to look back before looking forward.

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