Despite what you’ve read in your history books, the year 2020 was not complete chaos. Like any year, it was full of normal moments. People got married, had kids, went to school, loved or hated their bosses, made dinner for their families. We fought about politics and about whose turn it was to take out the garbage.
Yes, the winter brought pandemic; spring brought shut downs, loss of life and livelihood. That summer exploded into our awareness: people took to the streets to make their voices heard, and wildfires burned through forests and towns.
And the autumn. Autumn seemed to take the role of spring: giving us a chance to start over.
The history books gloss over the millions of small tipping points, the personal, intimate moments that added up to what happened. I’ll tell you about just one of them.
Your grandfather, Nellie. For much of his life, he was an angry, arrogant, thoughtless man. Your grandmother, too, had a past. But when they finally got together, they showed us all how transforming love could be.
You know the tragedy, the loss of your grandmother when your mother was born. We held our breath, wondering if your grandfather would go back to his old angry, destructive ways.
But your grandfather held his daughter in his arms, and his heart. It was like he swore to make a better world for her, and for you.
It was like that same vow was being made all over the world, by millions of fathers and mothers, teachers and firefighters, soldiers, friends, young people.
We would need one another, desperately, to face the next chapter. And yes, too many people decided to cling to their anger. The history books are full of those stories. And yes, we still have a long, long way to go. Your hands, Nellie, they’re dry and cracked from continual sanitizing, aren’t they? Global pandemics are still with us. Places like this one are still warehousing too many elders.
Slowly, though, slowly but surely, we wrenched the course of this planet more toward kindness, and caring for one another.
Yes, in 2020 we fought about everything. But in the midst of all that fighting, we found what mattered.