By Lucy Ge (San Jose Community Chapter)
image attribution: Anna Shvets
2020 has been a rough year. From coronavirus and continued racial injustice to wildfire destruction and global suffering, the world has been forever changed by 2020. In these times of social isolation and prolonged uncertainty, it’s natural and okay to feel hopeless and angry. But there is hope: the next four years will mean a new presidency and a new start for America. Vaccine distributions have begun globally, with vaccines made and tested with astonishing speed and efficiency.
For many, 2020 was a year of incredible personal loss and suffering for the world. To a name a few of the crises this year, Yemen faced its sixth year of civil war and a growing humanitarian crisis, an explosion at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon devastated infrastructure and killed over 170 civilians, economies around the world suffered due to COVID-19 restrictions, and Uyghur Muslims continue to be held in detention camps in China and face human rights violations.
As a likely result of the growing effects of climate change, extreme weather also plagued the planet this year, from the Australian wildfires that burned over 25 million acres, the wildfires in the Amazon rainforest and California, flooding in Brazil in July led to tens of millions of dollars in damage, to the July monsoon rains damaged 75,000 homes in India and resulted in the deaths of a thousand people.
As we head into 2021, remember that everyone is fighting their own battles and healing from scars that may have come or been exacerbated by this last year. Check in on your loved ones and don’t shy away from sharing your experiences with mental health. With this past election, we saw partisanship bickering and hatred from both sides. In 2021, we can choose kindness and compassion when talking to others, even if they share different perspectives. We can encompass the values of empathy, curiosity, and respect when engaging in civil discourse, even when we’re frustrated.
However, the start of 2021 will not mean the end of coronavirus: for the sake of public health, Americans will need to continue social distancing and mask wearing. Herd immunity for coronavirus will take more time to achieve, and citizens will need to keep being mindful of protecting the health of others. With numerous vaccines now out, we can let out a long sigh knowing our wishes for a vaccine were answered and also encourage our friends and family to take the vaccine when possible.
Of course, the start of the new year will not guarantee an end to the host of problems we face, including climate change, racial injustice, and overwhelmed healthcare systems. But progress starts with baby steps in the right direction. The end of 2020 and the advent of a vaccine, welcomed by all, marks the beginning of progress.
In the new year, we can focus on healing. Healing the political divide, healing from our losses, healing from what we went through. Slowly, life in America will start resembling normalcy again, and slowly, we can heal from our wounds.