This last year certainly feels like we packed about a decade into 12 months. Even if you leave out the pandemic, it feels as if our world has undergone some seismic shifts in this very short time period. As an eternal optimist, I look back and think of all the good things that happened this year.
There was a mass awakening in the United States and across the world to racial and social justice. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor became household names and politicians across the spectrum who had long been able to safely tow “tough on crime, law and order” party lines were forced to reckon with an electorate finally pushing back against the immense power and increased militarization of law enforcement over the past four decades. The misguided policy of mass incarceration has become widely understood and efforts to begin to reverse its effects now enjoy broad support.
The country, if you believe in math, overwhelmingly rejected the option of continuing down the path of flirtation with fascism we engaged in under Trump’s Presidency. While the further left policies of Bernie Sanders were rejected, our next President was compelled to adopt far more progressive rhetoric than any Presidential candidate of my lifetime.
In many ways, it feels as if we are moving in the right direction and there is reason for hope.
Of course, the year was also one of the most challenging in recent memory as Covid descended upon the world. Americans got a real-time demonstration of the danger in electing an incompetent President more concerned with his own vanity than the well-being of the citizens he governed. In the Spring, most likely did not imagine that in the richest and most powerful country in the world we would not have gotten the situation in control by the New Year. Yet, here we are, grappling with the explosion of cases sparked by Thanksgiving and preparing for the onslaught likely to come from Christmas travel and gatherings. Many, many more people have and will die than needed to, but even here there is reason for hope. Vaccinations and warmer weather should hopefully allow us to begin to return to something close to normal life during 2021.
For some, the pandemic brought out the worst manifestation of the misunderstanding of what freedom and liberty meant as people insisted on asserting their “individual right” to disregard the well-being of their fellow citizens. But for me (and I believe for the majority of people), the pandemic provided an opportunity to reflect on the importance of community and caring for one another. I watched the criminal defense bar spring into action and take great personal risk to do everything in their power to protect their clients, often the most marginalized of society. I saw people really understanding the value of friendships and family, finding creative ways to connect with and support their loved ones.
I look forward to traveling and seeing live music and eating in restaurants again, but most of all, I look forward to being able to return to real live human connection and continuing to do my part to act upon the recognition that we are all in this together and must love and care for one another. Happy 2021 everyone, may it be a great year.
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