This editorial originally appeared in Newsday, and was distributed by The Associated Press.
As we prepare to turn the page on 2020, seldom have so many of us done so with the same frame of mind:
This was a difficult year, a year filled with loss, on so many levels.
We lost a lot of people, some of whom were close to us, and their absence affected our balance. We had to force ourselves to see less of our loved ones, a loss of precious opportunity. And we lost touch with lots of other people, casual acquaintances, fellow commuters, librarians, other parents at school sports and cultural events, shop clerks and restaurant servers and kindred movie and theatergoers, who are part of the daily mosaic that enriches our lives. We suffered the tactile loss of hugs and handshakes.
We lost jobs and customers and livelihoods and businesses, and the ability to keep intact our plans for the future. Some of us lost months of our education, and continue to have it degraded. Some of us lost the chance to land that first job out of college or that internship that launches a career.
We lost many of the celebrations, rituals and rites marking the major moments of life, from weddings and graduations to birthdays and bar mitzvahs and, on some truly heartbreaking occasions, funerals. For long periods of time, we lost the special feeling of communion with others that nourishes the soul either in formal houses of worship or social groups.
As a nation, we lost the confidence that we as Americans can handle whatever life throws at us, as a virus brought us to our knees. But not all of our losses were bad: We also lost the ability to pretend that our country does not have a race problem or a problem with policing, or that inequality and disparity are not weights that drag all of us down. Hopefully, we will not lose the resolve to do something about them.
Even amid the desolation of our losses in 2020, there also were rays of hope and shards of gain.
We found within ourselves the determination and resourcefulness needed to carry on and to continue to be productive. Some of us discovered different ways and places to work and different methods of communicating, and different ways to run our businesses and different businesses to run. Others without such options found the courage to carry on. We learned to appreciate quieter moments and smaller joys, from the satisfaction that comes with cooking a new dish to the contentment imbued by a walk in a park to the pleasure of exploring or rediscovering hobbies new and old.
We gained a renewed understanding of the importance of the bonds we form with family and friends, and a new appreciation for our essential workers. And we realized, late in this awful year, how much can get done when we focus on what we all need and what we all have in common.
Let’s leave the losses of 2020 behind and take all that we learned and all that we gained into 2021, so that it becomes a year of hope and renewal.