When we talk about 20/20 vision, we are referring to perfection. Perhaps looking back to last year and thinking about 2020 vision, we have some different thoughts about what that phrase might mean. I think our 2020 vision gives us clarity. We’ve certainly never lived a year like 2020, and it taught us much. If we are able to harness the learning and the grit we’ve developed as we move forward, be prepared for greatness!
Here are some of my reflections as I think about 2020:
- Inequities in our world are glaring. We live in a society in which many face innumerable barriers while others live with relative ease. Covid doesn’t discriminate, but it sure affects people differently. I think we’ve all had to struggle, yet some of us are more prepared and more able to manage the challenges the pandemic has thrown our way. Some who were barely keeping up before Covid are now far behind, and the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting and heavy. Gaps in income, savings, and academic achievement that were already present have widened.
- We are highly adaptable. If someone had told us a year ago what this pandemic would look like, how would we have responded? What if we knew then that we were in for the long haul, that we would be away from friends and family for a year or more, that we would have to change the ways we work, that our kids would be learning from home, that restaurants would be closed or only offering takeout, that places we visited frequently would be shuttered, and on and on and on? We would have experienced outrage and grief. Many of us have had outrage and grief, but it’s come in waves. Mostly, we’ve taken on the challenges and figured them out. Many of us are still needing some support, but most of us are doing ok. We’ve changed almost everything about how we live, and we’ve made it work. We should look back on this year and know that we can handle far more than we ever thought was within our capacity. As we look forward, what can we do with that knowledge?!
- We need human interaction. Humans aren’t created for isolation. We are best when working for the greater good or participating in a community. We grow when we are together. We challenge one another’s ideas and thinking. Diversity of ideas and divergent thought are healthy for us. Human presence–3d sound, chance meetings, interpreting body language, physical touch (when will we shake hands or hug again?!), happy hours and long lunches–are good for us. We miss these things–even the introverts among us! We have been creative in staying in touch with our colleagues, friends, and family. Some of our efforts have rekindled interactions with those at a distance. We have potentially gained “face to face” time that we never used to initiate because Zoom or FaceTime wasn’t the norm. Yet, we miss the kitchen and break room gatherings, company potlucks, worship services, weddings, birthday parties, etc. These will come back, and we won’t take them for granted.
- We are resilient. We are prepared for a bright future. Look at what we’ve lived through. Our elders, peers, and youth have all lived through a year like no other and managed to make it work. As spring is upon us and vaccines promise heightened virus immunity, we have a new energy and hope. We are ready to move forward. And we are also stronger and grittier than ever. Look at my second bullet point–we’ve learned much and adapted. What if we took that learning and were proactive instead of reactive to our situations. Watch out, world! Also, while we’ve lived through Covid, the ongoing injustices of racial and socio-economic inequities have come to the forefront. Now, look back to my first bullet point–inequities are glaring. To quote Paul Wellstone, “We all do better when we all do better.” Now is the time to come back stronger than ever and with more collective voice than ever. Not all of our struggles cease as we come out of this pandemic, but we are well-equipped to work through challenges that persist. If we lift one another up in our next steps, listen to those around us, practice grace, and work for common good, we can actually all move forward in a manner that benefits all.
A wise friend recently posed the question, “what was the life moment that indicated the start of the pandemic for you?” Have you thought about that? Look back to last February and March when we had so many questions and didn’t realize the year that was to come would be a pandemic year. Is there a moment you knew it was real and that we were facing a Goliath? Is there an image that sticks in your memory (chairs up in a restaurant window, school closing, non-essential appointments cancelled, early mask wearing)? Looking back at the year we’ve lived, what do you know to be true–or possible–for our future? Hindsight is 20/20, so the future should be the beneficiary.