It certainly has been an eventful year. A global pandemic that has caused many not just to social distance but to socially isolate. Political division that many feels is unprecedented. Social unrest that has and is shaking some of the very foundational institutions in our country. Will anyone look back and say they long for the “good ole days, like 2020”? At first glance it would appear the consensus would be, good riddance and bring on 2021!!
The massive social unrest of the summer was unsettling and, in some cases, terrifying. Entire neighborhoods burning, police stations over run, elected officials facing the cameras with upturned hands and fingers pointed at each other as to whom was to blame. Gangs roving the streets (some armed and on both sides) assaulting people for their ideas. As awful as it was it has caused all of us to have sometimes difficult conversations. It appears that those discussions will continue as we move forward. The further in time we get from the mayhem the hyperbole dies out and we can have honest dialogue about each of our responsibility in approval, even if tacit, of systems that would allow any citizen in this country to be denied equal protection and opportunity under the law. Perhaps all this tragedy and strife will get us closer to the words of Dr. King “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
The political vitriol reached a fever pitch. Not really unprecedented but certainly well publicized. The exposure of political ideas on the plethora of media outlets helped to amplify the rancor. One very encouraging thing that came from this election is the 85% turnout in Minnesota during a pandemic. The lines at my polling place were as long as I have ever seen in my 21 election cycles. With the anger and discontent advertised in the media I could have anticipated almost any outrageous behavior at the polls. What I found was people who were polite, respectful and in good spirits. I have a newfound belief that my neighbors are in fact good decent people who apparently disagree with me politically (at least by yard sign count) but are not bent on destroying me or tearing down our country. Democracy is messy to be sure but, what else is better?
The Covid-19 global pandemic is an occurrence that is hard to find anything beneficial in. A disease that causes us to radically change our lifestyles attacking with such randomness and varied ferocity is unsettling at best. The politicization of the disease itself and the attempts to try and curb the spread have led to violence when the ideals of individuals ran headfirst into restrictions and those responsible for enforcement. What good could possibly come from this. Well it turns out families are eating more meals together. Parents are more involved in schoolwork. There is an apparent resurgence in people who are trying to find a spiritual center to their lives. As for me I am more conscious of the time I spend with those that I love primarily because I don’t know if this time may be the last time, I see them for a while. The missed birthdays, holidays and celebrations have given me a yearning to experience all I can in the coming years. I want more than ever to experience family and friends in casual and organized events. I long for church where I can hug and shake hands. When singing is mask free. When our men’s ministry group can meet for breakfast to share the triumphs and failures of our walk with Jesus. I miss the smiles of people I pass on the street or in a store. I miss the wisdom of my older friends (yes there are people older than me still walking around) that is freely shared over lunch or a cup of coffee.
So, I will thank 2020 for the lessons learned, for challenging my ideas and for the thankful expectation that I enter 2021 with.