Thursday, December 31, 2020

Reflections on a New Year - Farewell 2020, Welcome 2021

"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's await another voice."

- T.S. Eliot
From Four Quartets ("Little Gidding")

Farewell to 2020 and good riddance!  I really tried to make the best of a bad year and, thankfully, I was able to find some silver linings in the midst of this terrible pandemic.  After all, you can't wish your life away.  Still, no matter how you slice it, 2020.was a wretched year for humanity.  The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has truly been a nightmare.  Many have suffered greatly.  My heart goes out to those who have lost family members or friends to this scourge.

I realize that January 1, 2021 is an arbitrary date on a calendar.  It's just one day after December 31, 2020.  All the problems of the world won't be solved overnight.  However, I still look forward to the changing of that calendar.  It represents a clean slate and a fresh start to me.  Of course, the calendar effect is strictly psychological.  I know that there are no guarantees about 2021.  I just hope it's a better year than 2020 and that the virus is brought under control.  The vaccines will help, but enough people have get inoculated for them to be effective.  It will also help that the four lost years of the Trump presidency will come to a merciful end on January 20, 2021.  That's an added bonus.

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the world, but we can only hope for some better days ahead.  These tough times have given us some true heroes - health care workers on the frontlines.  For years, they have been undervalued and underpaid.  Due to COVID crisis, they are finally receiving some much-deserved praise and gratitude.  They have put their lives on the line for the sick and the elderly.  When the worst is finally over, will they still receive as much recognition?  The least we can do is pay our health care workers more.  They deserve it.  

Unfortunately, in contrast to our health care workers, some people have shown themselves to be selfish and uncaring.  I am referring to those who refuse to wear masks because they believe they should have the freedom to infect others.  I am also referring to those who have gone on unnecessary vacations.  I was dismayed to see so many travellers at airports during this holiday season.  Why can't people sacrifice one time so that we can all have a better Christmas and New Year next year? 

The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.  The finance minister of my home province of Ontario, Rod Phillips, took a Caribbean vacation during this time - with the knowledge of Premier Doug Ford.  Phillips apoIogized, but only because his hand was caught in the cookie jar.  If politicians want to be respected,  they have to lead by example.  

This pandemic has really highlighted the gross inequalities in our society.   Lower income people are finding themselves unemployed and facing eviction.  Large companies such as Amazon are having a field day because of all the online purchases.  It's boom time for them.  Small businesses and restaurants, however, are struggling.  It's bust time for them.

After this pandemic subsides, I hope that there will be more focus on the environment.  Thank goodness U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to return his country to the Paris Climate Accord.  After the Trump years, there is no more time to waste.

File 2020 into the dustbin of history.  It will be gone but certainly not forgotten.  Some day we will look at it with 2020 hindsight.  We'll talk about how we lived through the Great Pandemic.  For now, I'm just grateful that I haven't contracted COVID-19.  

So, I welcome 2021 not with unrealistic expectations, not with false optimism, but with hope.  Happy New Year to you and your family.    

- Joanne

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