Theresa Dear: We made it through 2020. What will you do differently now?

How has 2020 changed you? Has it changed your perspective on life? Have you found that life and family are more precious? Are you unchanged?

As we embark upon a new year, this moment begs for a brief rear-view reflection. Look at who you used to be. Look at who you were in 2020. You overcame some hurdles. You prevailed over obstacles. You made it through some rough patches. You’ve got a few scars and bruises. You also have new insight about yourself. You are stronger, more resourceful and resilient than you thought you were.

We lived through it, 2020. We made it. Now that we are on the other side, what are we going to do differently? Let’s agree that the following aren’t options: ignoring issues, sticking our head in the sand, kicking the can down the road and deferring to the government.

We have experienced a social juggernaut which devoured decency, victimized the vulnerable and mercilessly manipulated morality. As we collect and cling to the vestiges of what is good, right and just, 2021 is beckoning us to be more socially and culturally conscious to respond to the past and future social tremors, traumas and tragedies. There is a whole world of new needs and obvious opportunities.

We experienced things in 2020 that should influence our purpose and perspective in 2021. We learned that hate is a virus and knowledge is a vaccine. Food insufficiency is everywhere and sharing is abundant. Some of our neighbors are hurting and love is a remedy. Problems and tension abound and so does concern and care. Allow a docent’s virtual guide through 2021 needs and opportunities, starting with a few questions and recommendations:

  1. How will people in underserved poor rural countries in Africa get the vaccine? Further, they don’t have refrigeration systems to store the COVID-19 vaccine. We can’t be vaccinated, while they die? Right? This an opportunity for advocacy, giving or a mission trip.
  2. Some families could afford tutors and private teachers while their children were in online school from home. What about the African American and LatinX children who have fallen behind in their studies, because they did not have a laptop, internet or tutor? This is an opportunity to develop and launch mentoring programs to help students catch up.
  3. What can we do for the children who were bullied in virtual school because of the way their home looked? How do we as adults, leaders, Christians, parents and humanitarians change this dynamic?
  4. What about the homes that did not have internet service for their child’s online studies before COVID and will have the subsidized service discontinued in 2021? This is an opportunity to pay it forward. This is an opportunity to make sure every child has access to online educational resources, when their school or library is not open or accessible.
  5. How do we help the former essential workers who were laid off and are now Uber, Lyft, DoorDash or EatStreet drivers? We can use these services more often and tip them very well — above 20%.
  6. How are we going to help Native Americans who live on reservations and desperately need water, hand sanitizer and food? This could be an opportunity for legislative advocacy, donating services to build infrastructure, giving and training.
  7. What are going to do to build or rebuild trust with law enforcement? This is an important issue, but defunding the police can’t be the only answer. Do we host town hall meetings with police superintendents? Do we ask for more transparency of officers’ records? Do we ask for different training, like de-escalation, for officers? Should we advocate for mandated body cams and the retention of video footage for 5–10 years? What can you do as a tax-paying citizen to make this situation better?
  8. What are we going to do about racism in this country? We may need a national czar to shape and show the priority of this issue, but this particular issue needs all of us — all in — all the way. More to come on this topic in February.

Let’s go into 2021 with our new found strength, resiliency and purpose. Let’s do it together.