As we come to the end of what has been an annus horribilis, we reflect on 2020 to discover the good that has come from the worst of days.
The year began with the shocking loss of basketball star Kobe Bryant in a tragic helicopter crash. Just as the horror and sadness engulfed us, we learned Kobe’s precious daughter, Gianna Bryant was also aboard along with seven other friends. It was a foreboding prophecy of what was to come.
By March, the pandemic began sweeping the globe, a daily dose of horrors followed by unfathomable death, with millions infected. The numbers accelerated as businesses closed, schools locked their doors and a shortage of food and paper products grew. Masks, curfews and well, you know the rest because you’re still living it, all became overwhelming for most.
Limitations, fear, defiance, along with a huge outbreak of blatant racism swept the land. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many other people of color, were brutally murdered in plain sight and the world responded unanimously and marched in protest.
In the middle of what seemed to be apocalyptic there were glimmers of light.
The death of a beloved icon brought millions of fans together to mourn, pray and celebrate the lives of nine souls gone too soon. We were collectively inspired by the life of a man who’d genuinely made a difference on and off the court and a daughter who shadowed her father and aspired to reach the same heights of success.
Covid-19 exposed more than this writer can convey in this brief format, but the lessons continue to brow beat a world, which was monumentally unprepared for such a raging global emergency. The massive suffering and stark death toll inspired many to hold their children tighter and spend every waking moment with family, a theme that would repeat again and again, week after week. It inspired the unprepared to think about life, mortality and how fleeting it is, to evaluate their own potential demise and put some plans in place, just in case. We became more aware, more awake and more prepared.
In the midst of a cesspool of darkness, light found a way.
Parents suddenly became teachers, home schooling their children through every season. Creative folks found new ways to entertain each other while others gleefully learned the art of bread-making. We learned how to economize and budget for these days when you spend more money on groceries than ever before, FOMO’d into submission. We got a visual science lesson is talking, breathing, coughing and emitting droplets with every word spoken and it was revealing.
Without a caring, compassionate and effective leader to guide Americans, we were left to fend for ourselves and yet rose to the occasion day after day, inventing new ways to handle the onslaught. Novice seamstresses got creative and online mask sales flourished, Etsy’s stock tripling during the pandemic. Companies stayed open risking their own safety in many cases, to provide PPE and sanitizer to a craven world.
Sadly and painfully, we learned profoundly just how much we need each other, especially those who called Covid-19 a hoax, then wound up near death, sucking the life force out of exhausted health care workers who begged everyone to, “WEAR A MASK!” We’ve learned to listen, to heed warnings, to come together to feed and take care of each other. We learned patience, tolerance, our priorities changed dramatically and survival became a daily chore.
Kindness has been the underlying refuge for a world under siege. Chefs, essential workers, ordinary people, teachers, students, restaurants and small businesses, began rising to the occasion to help feed, clothe and educate people. Young people found creative ways to inspire while their parents took to TikTok to make us all laugh. We bore witness to extraordinary acts of goodness, stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, whether it is giving a waitress an enormous tip or picking up groceries for seniors, everyone with rare exception stepped up.
We learned that people are essential, that a proficient and supplied infrastructure is critical; many have learned to stop relying on norms and have built greenhouses to grow their own food. Ingenuity and tenacity became the battle cry for pharmaceutical companies and researchers worldwide, as they created a vaccine in mere months, which was astonishing and beyond any that had ever been developed before.
If you didn’t already know it, most have discovered how desperately we need human touch and how essential a warm hug is. We discovered we are the oxygen for others when theirs has been depleted. What humans once took for granted has been exposed and we are now navigating the unearthed terrain of humanity, with new vision, while seeing through fresh eyes.
A new world is actually being born as long as we never forget how affected and impacted we have been by the dying one. We have an opportunity, greater than that which followed WWII, Pearl Harbor and 9/11; to rise to a new dimension of compassion, to rebuild with strategic precision, to implement change at the highest levels of government and medicine and to view and value science as a guiding light for all future events of this colossal magnitude.
Like gemstones chronicling every valuable lesson of 2020 now embedded in our flesh for all time, we seek to uncover the priceless wisdom found just over the horizon.
We have learned what hope really means, how critical faith is and how beautiful the resilient spirit of those who’ve walked directly through the fire and risen like a phoenix from the ashes of despair and hardship. We are the best of humankind in the worst of days and when the horizon shifts and the sun shines again on us all, may we remember that loving each other, is the ultimate healing balm and it must lavishly and consistently, be spread on everything.
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