2020. It started with World War III. Remember? When we almost went to war with Iran? I bet you don’t. So much has transpired in the world between then and now, it’s hard to keep track of everything. One minute, it feels like this year went by in a flash, the next, we forget that the month of March has long since passed, even though we feel perpetually stuck there.
I remember my last day of work before the world shut down. I knew what was coming. No one came in the store that night. But there I was. Trying to savor every last second of my shift. I cried on the way home. At the time, I didn’t know just how much my life would change or for how long. I don’t think any of us did. I just knew it was going to and I just had to grin and bear it.
I took it well, though. I survived the lockdown. My company survived. Many weren’t as lucky. Many are still suffering greatly.
I can’t lie, that does weigh heavily on me.
Then in May, we learned about George Floyd, yet another unarmed Black man killed by the police. Over eight minutes, he was there, gasping for his breath. Eight. Fucking. Minutes. He even cried out for his mother. So many were horrified. But for so many, like so much else this year, their concern did not last.
Performative allyship continued to rear its ugly head over and over again this year. People only seemed to care when it was popular or convenient for them to do so. Never once giving social and racial justice another glace once the headlines and hashtags went away. Some even became openly hostile to the cause, taking their cues from the likes of Candance Owens, because she at least made them feel comfortable. At least that’s what I gathered.
Summer was hard. My uncle died after his battle with cancer in August. He was the kindest, most gentle man you could ever know. I loved him. And I miss him.
Then came election season. Stress added to stress. 2016 was a nightmare, and the way 2020 was going, it looked to be the same this time around. And isn’t it just like 2020, where now half of us believe a whole different set of facts from what the actual truth is?
Man, we sure have work to do, America.
In many ways, I kind of wish this year had never happened. If it could only be the year that wasn’t. But in other ways, I think this year can teach us something, if we let it. This year has shown a bright light onto many of our broken systems in a way I don’t think anything ever has before. At least not in my lifetime. Take your pick: Healthcare, policing, mental health, racial issues, election systems, government, social safety nets.
We do have a lot to work on. Maybe this year is the inflection point. Maybe, just maybe, in 2021, we can start to turn it around. Reform what needs to be reformed. Discard what no longer works. And build back what needs to be repaired.
We can do this. But it’s going to take our concern lasting beyond the headlines and the soundbites. So when we do get beyond this year, we don’t forget it.
We don’t let it become the year that wasn’t.