The events of this past year have collided to produce extraordinary impacts on us all. Here we discuss the silver lining in an otherwise crappy year.
We’ve all been through hell this past year. In the US, we’ve been victimized daily by a relentless onslaught of unprecedented political treachery and unfathomable cruelty. And like everyone else on the planet we’ve also had our lives turned upside down by the pandemic. Whether it be a basic sense of safety and security or the loss of loved ones, much has been stripped away from us. But things are beginning to turn around. A new presidency is only days away and vaccines are on the way. We can once again look forward to a better tomorrow for humanity and the planet. And most importantly, our learnings from this year will serve us well as we re-assemble our lives.
“If you have to go through hell, don’t come back empty-handed”
The above quote is from a KCRW podcast featuring Rabbi Steve Leder, who was interviewed regarding the issue of death and grieving during COVID-19. In it, Rabbi Leder argues that while the pandemic has shut down so much of our lives, some of which has been terrible and difficult, “it has also chipped away and stripped us down to a very beautiful essentialism, to the simplest, most meaningful people and things in our lives and hopefully, a deeper sense of gratitude for the simplest and most meaningful things in our lives.”
For some this may mean rediscovering the joy of spending more time with family or of simply having more time to do things for yourself. Of fathers getting to have dinner with their kids, of parents no longer willing to work long hours and weekends and having to miss out on birthdays, celebrations or other activities. We’ve all learned that it’s not ‘what’ but ‘who’ we have that matters. We’ve learned that there is much more to life than simply work and that perhaps, what we’ve spent our life pursuing means little or nothing.
Staring Evil in the Eye
Covid has made us look death in the eye while Trumpism has made us look at the potential loss of democracy in the eye. Politics and the pandemic have taught us much. So much has been revealed about what really matters most to us and perhaps, of that which was hiding in plain sight all along.
Both death and the near loss of our democracy has taught us about life, what we really value and what is extraneous. It has produced an opportunity for us to not only be grateful for what we have but the importance of active civic participation to protect it. It has presented a prime opportunity to help others get a leg up and make the world a better place for all.
We have learned what matters most: love, play, laughter and freedom.
The Upside: Recalibration
As I’ve always believed, a crisis is a really terrible thing to waste. Having much stripped from us has given us each invaluable learnings and lead us all to points of clarity. It is this essentialism that the pandemic and our political circumstance has brought us that we need to take forward to make our lives more meaningful and society more equal.
What essential learnings are you going to carry forward and how will you participate to make yours and the world we live in a better place in 2021?