2021: A Better Year Ahead

Monday Author:  Susanne Skinner

2021, things Can Only Get Better2020 was a tough year. A look back confirms a year like no other—it even had its own hash tag. The best thing we can say is that it’s behind us; it’s time to embrace some much-needed optimism and look to the future.

Cynics say it won’t be hard to improve upon 2020. They might be right because it was a year that paralyzed the world. A pandemic dealt blows to the workforce that included loss of jobs and income, and businesses were forced to shut their doors for good.

Political and racial division governed the media and we all learned to live and work within the confines of our homes. We watched people die from an out-of-control virus.

Everyone is ready for a better year ahead.

The Rear-View Mirror

This is not the first time the world has been disrupted by a virus, nor will it be the last. It forces us into places we do not want to go, facing hard truths about who we are and how we behave toward one another.

People learned to cope with stresses and losses beyond their control. Death tolls climbed, food lines grew and unemployment rose to record heights.  It is the year we isolated ourselves, challenged our skills and made Tik Tok a household pastime.

In the midst of this crisis, a pandemic helped bring out the good in people. Strangers became friends and friends became the force that kept us going against all odds.

Companies were forced to redefine productivity, families found new ways to be together while apart and Zoom kept us connected. First responders became the face of human kindness and compassion, hidden behind layers of PPE. As the numbers climbed, we wept with them and for them.

A disease tested our limits, teaching us new ways to adapt and be creative. We found renewed courage, patience and hope in some very dark hours.

If we take no other lesson from 2020, let it be that we are resilient.

What Lies Ahead in 2021

On the other side of loss is the possibility of gain

What Lies Ahead, 2021, New Year2021 brings new leadership to our government and the optimism of fresh perspective.

A COVID-19 vaccine has been approved and distribution has begun. The partnership of pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and distributors continue to accelerate the availability. It is not happening at “warp speed,” but frontline workers and high-risk individuals are getting the vaccine.

A cohesive plan for distribution is still in the works but the hope is by summer all those who want a vaccine will have it. The Economist reports, “deliverance will come in a small glass vial.”

Projections indicate by Q3 the virus will be under control.

A Personal Word About Covid-19

In November I traveled to Maine to be with my Dad in his final days. In order to make the trip I traveled through three airports twice. I was in two rental car terminals, a hotel, a funeral home, and a church. I had multiple interactions within his assisted-living community over a period of five weeks. I followed the rules and remained healthy.

Maine supports and practices the highest safety protocols for the prevention of Covid-19. I observed them all, as well as diligent hand washing, disinfecting and mask wearing. I had a negative test (required) when I entered Maine and a negative test (my decision) upon my return.

The day after Christmas I received a positive diagnosis. Why?  Because Florida is a state that largely believes Covid-19 is a political hoax, mask wearing is optional and it’s really just like the flu. I assure you it is none of these things. To those who embrace this thinking:  You are the spreaders, the deniers and the reason we cannot get this virus under control.

You are the reason I and so many others have Covid-19.

The Way Forward

Looking backward to go forward, rear-view mirror, 2021, New YearWhile I am glad to leave 2020 behind, we should recognize how much progress we made in the midst of insurmountable challenges. Americans were slowed down, but we were not stopped. Perhaps slowing down afforded us an opportunity to look more closely at things that are wrong.

Once in a great while, we experience a year that defies the normal highs and lows we all go through. This was 2020—the year that shook us, tested our faith and brought us face to face with harsh truths about our beliefs and behaviors, and a chance to fix them.

In the face of these truths, communities rallied and people learned to speak with one voice. Much-needed dialog about racism, prejudice and bias began at grass-roots levels.  The year ahead offers opportunities to continue these conversations and be instruments of change.

Remember—we are either part of the problem or part of the solution.  There are no shortcuts here.

Cautious Optimism

In the worst of times, we see the best of people. The human difference is the one that counts in a crisis. My belief in people makes me hopeful for the year ahead.

New Year Chapter One, 2021, things get betterHope is not the belief that our problems are going away, it is the strength to continue, rebuilding what is broken. People bring out the good in each other, and I believe in our collective ability to find that goodness and move forward.

My hopes for 2021 are bigger than a single day or a specific victory. My hope is that people remain resilient and focus on the bigger picture with faith and cautious optimism.

Let’s raise a glass to a better year ahead.

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