by Judy M McCutcheon
2020 has been quite a year. It has brought many of us to our knees, yet some have been able to make the best use of it, as individually, we have varying levels of resilience and coping skills.
One of my daughters told me this past Sunday that her coping skills are waning, and I said to her, “Baby, just a little bit more.” When we get to that point, we need to tell ourselves just a little bit more. I lost my father and brother within 2 weeks of each other this year, and while the sting of death is almost unbearable, I told myself, just a little bit more, because I knew that others lost so much more. Many of us have lost loved ones, and that loss was further pronounced because many of them died alone, and travel restrictions further compounded the grief. Many people also lost their jobs, businesses, homes, and for some, a combination of those losses. Many women have lost their dignity due to increased violence in the home. Many little girls and boys have lost their innocence to an increase in incest and sexual abuse. Suicide rates have increased. Many who suffer from depression and anxiety have lost a further sense of self.
When I look at some of the videos and read some of the posts on social media about Black people’s plight in America, it is just unimaginable to think of going for an early morning run and getting chased or shot at because of the colour of my skin. These difficult times have shown the true nature of people, some good and some just downright ugly. I read a piece by Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, about her miscarriage, and it made me think about all the other unknown women who have had stillbirths, miscarriages, or even the death of a child, and I wonder how they are coping. This has not been a business as a usual year. 2020 has asked us in many ways to pause and take stock of our behaviours, actions, and attitudes towards each other and the environment.
Are we grasping the lessons that 2020 has sought to teach us? There seems to be a day for everything, but I am baffled by the fact that we need a world kindness day. We seemed to have lost all sense of what it means to be our brother’s keeper or to understand the true meaning of “love thy neighbour as thy self.” What these bible verses are telling us is that everything starts and ends with each of us. We do not have to share the posts and videos that destroy the lives of others. We do not have to rejoice when other’s falter or even fall flat on their face. But instead, we should seek to ask, “Are you okay.”
2020 has shown our weakness, our strength, and our resilience. Marcel Proust said that it is in grief we develop the mind. As I reflected on my brother and father’s death, I am reminded that it is in pain, we find resilience and the strength to go on. We have lost so much in 2020, but we have also gained a lot. Many small businesses have been able to transition to doing business online. People who have lost their jobs were able to pivot successfully into entrepreneurship. The environment got that much-needed break from all the greenhouse emissions. We got to see nature in all her fullness and glory. We have found different and better ways of living and being, and for those things, we should be grateful.
As we head into Christmas and 2021, I am compelled to write this to offer you hope. Hope that things will get better, but you must be intentional about what you want that hope to look like. Let us first accept that 2020 has forever changed us, and there is no going back to what we knew as normal. We have to embrace this new dispensation. We must view the lessons that 2020 taught us as seeds that we can plant and water so that our 2021 will be a year of further growth. Christmas for most of us is a time of rejoicing and celebration, and it’s the perfect time to look towards the future and the possibilities of what 2021 can be. Let us look to 2021 with fresh eyes and be filled with hope for the new opportunities and challenges that await us, knowing that we will be okay. See this as a time for us to incorporate the goodness that 2020 offered and fight for the things that are important to us with the hope that it inspires others to join us in that good fight.
Merry Christmas to You and Yours. I wish you a 2021 filled with renewed hope.
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Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company. www.goblueinc.net
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