Thank God 2020 is OVER.
That was my immediate reaction as I drank champagne and drank more champagne, joyously, in some kind of insane attempt to purge the memory of the grim toll of the previous 366 days of a singular, cruel leap year. The celebration was subdued but one borne of relief as fireworks exploded in San Francisco with robust cheers ringing out as an accompanying anthem to the percussive early morning explosions.
I received several phone calls and texts well before midnight Pacific time so I was already mentally in 2021 early on during the final hours of 2020. In all respects my psychological benchmark, the marker of transitioning out of 2020, had actually begun almost two months ago. This New Year’s morning’s official calendar shift to 2021 however, was just the tonic. The champagne itself was the perfect transition.
What a horrible year 2020 was. The most evil and collective gloom, misery and global radical life change we’ve seen and experienced for quite a few decades.
At least I think so.
Good riddance to 2020.
Annus horribilis. Remove one “n” from the first word in this sentence and it describes exactly how and where we got shafted by these last 12 months. Some of us far, far worse than others.
This new year named 2021 surely must be different.
Either that is my naivety writing or it is optimism and hope shouting from my fingertips, punctuated by the sound of the keyboard I enter these words from. I’d like to think that optimism and hope matter — and that those two words are not just words or a language that some privileged or rich people speak without any real substance or meaning in those words, or even a devout belief in those words.
Hope must be grounded in something tangible and real and meaningful. For example: grounded in hard work, collective activism, vision, organization, passion and the commitment and action to fight for a better, more just world.
We must also fight to be better people, individually and collectively.
And love must be the core operating principle. As must justice and compassion.
After the varying degrees of hell we went through in 2020, surely better days will come.
Yet we must continue to fight for those better days, not just wish or hope them into existence.
Things will never go back to the way they were, what with technological invasions and revolutions literally reshaping the way we live, think, speak, work and behave.
In other words there’s no such thing as “normal”. There never has been. (And “normal” for whom and what, exactly?)
“Normal” is for the birds.
The coronavirus pandemic has truncated us further from our human selves and deeper into a compromised, selfish, fearful, hopeful, paranoid, terrified, wayward sea of humanity and confusion. With this deadly virus raging on around the globe somehow I think we are being groomed and doomed to become robots for some unwanted experiment of attack on our endurance or fortitude, an attack that tests our resolve and resilience, and for that matter, our individual independence.
Something is happening. We have to figure out what that “something” is. Maybe you already know the answer.
Masks may have hid our faces (those of us wearing masks at least) but they did not hide our hearts.
Masks covered our mouths, but our souls shined through our eyes.
We were challenged in 2020 but we did not fail — at least as much as we could have failed.
We had some successes. Some victories. Some respites.
We faced setbacks but did all we could to fight back against them.
Not everything in the world or about us as people was unclean in 2020 but for so many of us our spirit was clear, resolute and undaunted. These good, life-affirming things amidst the grim, mass death showed. These good things we did shone the world over. Acts of kindness. Compassion. Life-saving. So many of us managed to do good things amidst all of the pain, suffering, grief and death.
If we could get through 2020, we can get through anything in 2021.
So yes, a New Year has arrived. New opportunities. New possibilities. New challenges. New horizons. A chance to turn the page in your heart and be better. A chance to be better to yourself and better to others.
A chance to wipe your slate clean. To the degree that you can do so.
In this brand New Year the world awaits our footprint. We must make it a positive, life-celebrating, justice-advocating footprint.
The New Year has begun and we must begin to forge a new path with a vision that says that people matter, that Black Lives Matter. That Black people matter. We must push, change and be the architects of the laws and mentalities that reject everything encompassing that vision.
Laws must be designed to respect and recognize the humanity of all people, particularly and especially Black people, instead of laws designed to protect and consolidate the economic interests of a few rich white men. The world cannot survive like that. Nor can it possibly thrive like that. Just look at how the world has fared so far under that rubric.
All I know is, what’s right is undoubtedly right — and what’s wrong is emphatically wrong.
So we must be proactive. We must. We cannot afford to go backwards. We cannot afford to go backwards, not even 24 hours from this first new day of 2021.
Photo: A street on New Year’s Eve 2020, in San Francisco. (Photo by: Omar Moore)
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