At the end of a year that began with Australia quite literally catching fire acting as the opening salvo in a campaign that left many of us feeling as though the year itself was out to get us, just being able to read these end-of-the-year columns may very well seem like an accomplishment.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen our president acquitted of crimes that would have, at the very least, forced him from office, only to watch him turn around and downplay the worst health crisis since the Spanish Flu – all before contracting COVID-19 himself. We watched politicians from both sides spew bromides from crowded stages that looked like mirror images of the 2016 election, with the sheer number of candidates vying for the presidential nomination flip-flopped from four years ago. War seemed imminent following the killing of an Iranian military leader and, as the year wore on, it seemed the only thing that saved us from a military showdown was the larger assault on the world by the Coronavirus.
We all know the rest of the story: George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers in Minnesota ignited a powder keg that detonated, not just in America, but across the civilized world. Protests turned into riots and much more than the Outback burned in their wake.
We’ve seen the daily updates. Casualties from this ill-begotten year have been many and the sadness of the number of those lost isn’t something I have the ability to express here. This year has truly been one of the worst we’ve seen. All of us.
Yet, here we are, at the end. And there’s reason to be hopeful. Two vaccines have arrived, and while most of us won’t be able to get inoculated for at least several months, just the idea we may be seeing the beginning of the end of this virus is reason enough to celebrate 2021’s arrival.
Which leads me to my message to you: be hopeful. Be optimistic. We are fooling ourselves if we think all will be well when the clock strikes midnight Friday. COVID-19 and its effects will be around, in some form or another, for a long while to come. The new administration in Washington will have as many downs as ups and we’ll still face daily challenges and hurdles we didn’t expect to have to jump. BUT! If 2020 has taught us anything at all, it’s that we are resilient, especially when we are united.
Bouncing back from 2020 will take a global effort, but here at home we will face our own issues tailored specifically for Americans. But, while our natural optimism can, many times, be our biggest weakness, more often than not it is our biggest strength. Let’s use it to our advantage in 2021!
Blake Bell is the editor and publisher of the Madison Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org