Friday, January 01, 2021

Hindsight is 2020

There’s nothing I can say that will overcome the sadness, confusion, frustration, or anger (insert your particular emotion) that will always bubble up when 2020 is the topic of future conversations.  We won’t forget what a disaster these past twelve months have been, nor should we. Some of what we have endured was unavoidable, but there is no denying that at crucial points, when we needed courageous, visionary leaders, we got scam artists and criminals, hacks and petty sycophants, power mongers and bunglers.  The forces of fascism and racism seized the opportunity given to them by the demagogue in the White House, and far right terrorist organizations attacked the essential egalitarian and democratic foundations of the promise of the United States, apparently without consequences.  As a country, we are passing through an existential crisis, as yet unresolved, and no one knows what fate awaits, or how the crisis will end.   

 However …

The social activist movement that needed to happen, that was necessary to save the soul of the United States, erupted around the slogan Black Lives Matter, and the struggle for civil and human rights inched forward, precisely when we required the shake-up, when the disturbance of our collective conscience demanded a monumental response to hatred, lies, and apathy.  

Largely because of the Trump administration’s incompetence and criminal negligence, hundreds of thousands unnecessarily died or suffered critical illness.  But we remember the courage and sacrifice that played out every evening on the national news.  Generous individuals and small-nonprofit organizations provided food to the hungry, compassion to the suffering, a shoulder to lean on for the grieving.  Nurses, doctors, hospital staff, ambulance personnel, first responders, and many others risked their lives to care for strangers.  In the midst of the pandemic, firefighters, risking everything, fought to save homes and animals of people they would never meet. Neighbors looked out for each other.  Even with social distancing and quarantines, families and friends bonded, stronger than before, with assurances that no one was forgotten.   

Thousands of stories of heroes have been told, and thousands more are yet to be revealed.

The struggle continues.  We will accept that we must discard the idea of life returning to “normal,” and for many that’s okay.  We will adapt, endure.  People of color know that the struggle continues, it never ends.  We remember a lesson learned long ago -- without struggle there is no progress.  

But at least 2020 is over.



Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction. His latest book is Angels in the Wind coming from Arte Público Press, April 2021.


Daniel Cano said...

Beautifully and succinctly stated. In the Southwest, the worst affected were the "essential" Latino, African-American, and low-income whites who stand behind the counters every day to make sure the rest of us get what we need. Sadly, the president-elect thinks he can reach across the aisle and work with his, past, colleagues who assisted in worst human tragedy since the Spanish Flu. Those days of cooperation are gone. Obama learned that the hard way. Trump, like Bush-Cheney, rammed their agendas through regardless of what any one else thought. The president-elect should do the same thing. Let the young guns loose.

Manuel Ramos said...

Thank you, Daniel. I think you are right. The mantra for the president-elect should be "seize the day." The Republican party is bankrupt. The refusal of people like Ted Cruz to accept defeat is just another sign that conservative Republican ideology is being replaced with Trumpism -- dishonesty, racism, personality worship, etc. The Democrats have to be united and strong. Let's hope they are up to it. Meanwhile, the rest of us (not in government) carry on.