As baby boomers, we’ve lived through some tumultuous times. But none comes close to what we’re living through now. From Silver Spring, Maryland, communicators specialist Larry Checco writes of the hopes he harbors for a better 2021 than the helluva year we’ve had so far.
Time exists so that everything doesn’t happen at once.
Ha! Tell that to 2020.
As a baby boomer, I believe this year has compressed time like none other. What normally would take decades or centuries to unfold has unraveled in less than 12 agonizing months.
It’s been a helluva year. And it’s not over.
Where to start?
We’re still in the midst of a once-in-a-century, life-threatening global pandemic that has already killed more than a million people worldwide. The U.S. takes the dubious lead in this league of nations with an official count of over 215,000 dead, and a despairing promise of thousands more to come.
Meanwhile, wildfires on the West Coast, the likes of which firefighters say they have never seen before, transformed thousands of square miles of forestland and rural communities into scorched-earth, Dante-like infernos. These conflagrations left scores dead and thousands of others homeless.
At the same time, coastal cities in the south and southeast have been hammered by an inordinate amount of Herculean hurricanes, seemingly one right after the other, destroying hundreds of neighborhoods and displacing countless families.
Fact is, between the fires and hurricanes, tens of thousands of American families are now homeless refugees.
Which leads us to perhaps the greatest existential threat that our boomer generation and every other generation face: global warming. 2020 has borne witness to ice caps melting at an unfathomable rate, threatening our coastal cities. Our deserts are expanding. Our weather patterns are intensifying. Millions of species are being eradicated. But let’s not even go there. We may be next.
Exhausted yet? There’s more.
The pandemic-led recession of 2020 resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs— and, as a result, their healthcare benefits too. All this, during a pandemic— life savings and hope for the future, gone. Sadly, many were still trying to recover from the Great Recession of 2008.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, racial tensions erupted in many of our major cities, resulting in rioting we haven’t seen since the 1960s, with self-described armed militia—often anti-black/brown, anti- Semitic, and anti-immigrant—adding fuel to the flames. This, when many of our police departments are under scrutiny for racial profiling and the deaths of innocent unarmed Blacks.
Sad fact is, many of us no longer trust government. Congress is dysfunctional. Our institutions are failing us. We have a legal system (including the Supreme Court) that is not only blind, but has turned Lady Justice deaf and dumb to the will of the majority.
Not to mention a president who has behaved like none other in our nearly 250-year history.
In one way or another, 2020 has touched all of us.
What to do?
Meds may be one solution. Turning off the TV may be another. Some of us used to think moving to Canada might solve our problems. No more. 2020 has a long fetch.
My family is one of the lucky ones. Except for the pangs of social isolation and limited travel outside our home, so far we’ve managed to survive 2020 relatively unscathed. We’re extremely aware and thankful for that.
To stay sane, we’ve learned how to silo our personal lives from what’s happening all around us. But at the same time, we’re trying to do what we can to help others. That entails assisting neighbors and friends when they’re in need, making weekly donations to food banks, as well as increasing our giving to worthy human service nonprofits.
As a middle-class family with limited resources we know, with great frustration, that our giving doesn’t come close to moving the needle. But we do what we can, and hope others will do the same.
One thing we do know for sure: we’re never going to get 2020 back.
Life is not a soccer game. When the clock runs out, the game is over. Fini. There’s no arbitrary time allotted at the end of the game for time lost due to substitutions, players’ injuries, or anything else.
Nope. My wife and I are well aware that when the last tick of our clock tocks, our game is over.
So, despite all the disruption around us, we try to stay positive, try to identify and appreciate all that’s good in our lives, especially focusing on our family, friends, and loved ones. We hope for a better 2021.