2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year. There’s no other way to put it. As we close out this horrible year that will have certainly earned its place in modern infamy, let’s reflect on what we learned, where we are, and where we are trying to be in 2021, and beyond.
In 2020, we learned we are resilient. We learned we are innovative. We learned there are bad people who do bad things in the world, but there are more good people who do good things, who rally in a crisis, lead with a sense of honor and purpose, and help their communities – frontline workers, teachers, neighbors helping neighbors, people trying to support and save their local businesses, ordinary people trying to show up for their friends and family, albeit virtually in many cases. Although a doozy of a year, 2020 showed us there is more good than evil in this world. Without 2020 we may not have seen the full light of the best of humanity shine.
This week gave us real light and hope. Trucks are now rolling with one vaccine and about to roll on another, giving us TWO powerful weapons against this horrible virus. Although we have been bruised and bloodied, for those of us who are thankfully still here, we are still here, and we owe it to those who paid with their lives to continue to fight.
So now isn’t the time to lie down, to punk out when victory is within our grasp. Now is the time to double down, dig deep, and wage all-out #WarOnRona.
2020 was Rona’s turn. In 2021, we got the ball.
First, for anybody named Rona, I’m not talking about waging war on you. I don’t know you, but I’m sure you’re good people, so I’m sending you virtual snaps for being the awesome person you are 😊.
So, what is the Rona I’m talking about?
Rona is of course the coronavirus. It is sickness and death. It has messed up our health, our money, our minds. We have been forced to be disconnected from the very people and social structures that would normally help us through a crisis, (this certainly counts!), where the crisis itself is being together.
Rona has other dimensions too.
Rona is inequity.
We’ve seen how Rona has disproportionately affected communities of color. This effect being tied to the social determinants of health – education, health and access to healthcare, social and community context, and neighborhood and built environment. We need more equitable access to healthcare. People need to become fundamentally healthier in order to increase their chances of survival when disease strikes. We can’t just say “live healthier”. We must provide people with the right tools within the right structures that will enable them to actually be healthier. This comes from increased health education and health promotion programs, better access to healthcare, and eradicating racism and bias from our healthcare system.
Rona is stress.
The stress of the unknown, the stress of isolation, financial stress, home schooling, work zooming, the sense of lack of control. We’re not just juggling balls, we’re juggling flaming balls, praying one doesn’t hit the floor and burn the whole house down… Every day another problem with seemingly no end in sight.
Rona is disempowerment.
We have felt like we have no power in Rona’s world. In March, we were a little old lady, walking home at night, when Rona came along, knocked us upside our head, and snatched our purse. Leaving us lying in the street with torn pantyhose and our blue steel wig crooked to the side.
We know you Rona. We see you Rona, and just like J. Lo in the movie “Enough”, we’ve had enough and we’re ready for you Rona. (Some of you know what I’m talking about, for the rest, google it. Virtual snaps for Enough 😊.) We can’t get cocky though because we know Rona will get its licks in, but we will win by being smarter. This time we have the knowledge, and the power, to wrestle this virus to the ground.
We are no longer running through the woods in the dark, circling the same oak tree like, “Man that looks familiar…?”, unable to determine whichaway is north. We got it. We know it. We have the power.
Trucks are rolling.
We can’t see the finish line of this horrible race yet, but we KNOW there IS a finish line. To use an analogy from my marathon days, we’re at mile 20. We’ve come so far, but the last 6.2 miles are the toughest, and we’re praying nothing cramps or that our negative self-talk will keep us from crossing the finish line. But we’re not going to cramp and we’re quashing the negative talk. We can’t hear the cow bells ringing yet, but we KNOW when we get a little bit closer, we will.
So mask up. Suit up. Rise up. Let’s kick 2020 to the curb.
But never waste a good crisis. Let’s learn, grow, and change for the better. Rona reared its ugly head and showed us social systems and policies that must be fixed. Rona also showed us things within our own lives that must be fixed.
Let’s have a vision for who we want to be and take deliberate, consistent, daily actions toward achieving that vision. Now is the time to re-build ourselves (and this country) harder, better, faster, stronger.
Let’s not go back to the status quo before Rona. THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Let’s move forward, taking action to realize a different, better vision of who we want to be as individuals, and collectively what we want this country to be.
Let’s step into 2021 with renewed energy and focus. Let’s get healthy, mentally and physically. Let’s use that good health to fuel our activism to right social wrongs. Let’s step into our power and win the #WarOnRona. And Rona, you owe us a purse 😊.
Wishing you a safe, Happy Holiday, and an Empowered New Year!
Dr. Jennifer Turner