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Nalini Joseph: Will we forget lessons of 2020?

By Nalini Joseph

I talk with someone almost every week about the angst, pain, frustrations and inconveniences of 2020.

In June of last year, many of us were glued to our television, watching the horrors of COVID-19 spread across the globe. The number of cases and deaths mounted daily in our nation; New York and California were at the epicenter of our panic. So many of us lost family and friends to this horrible disease; so many of us promised ourselves that never again would we take our freedoms for granted. We would appreciate our family and loved ones, our open churches, our festivals and large gatherings, our mask-free shopping sprees, our health and our lives here in America the beautiful.

As we slide into a post-pandemic world, what permanent changes have we made internally, within ourselves and within our families? In March 2020, life as we knew it coming to a screeching halt. By the time June came along, most of us were beginning to adapt to the external changes that were imposed upon us by our local and state governments. We were starting to accept that the shutdowns, the school closures and the mask-wearing mandates were out of our control.

I daresay that some of us were even beginning to enjoy the necessary halts: working at home, visiting only with a small, nuclear group of family and friends as well as cancelling our grand travel and summer plans. The hectic mornings with long commutes and road rage were gone. Writers, speechmakers, therapists, preachers and politicians all began to write and speak about the lessons that we were forced into learning as a result of the pandemic.

Where are we now, and what lessons did we learn that we will carry forward with us? A year later, are we less dependent on China? Are we indeed outsourcing less, importing less and paying our American workforce the wages that we said we would be willing to pay? Are we meditating more, cleansing our minds and souls from all the clutter and material things we surround ourselves with? Are we less angry? Are we taking time each day to tell our loved ones they are loved? Are we being more loving and respectful towards our neighbors or those we have political and world-view differences with? Have we thanked our pastors and community leaders for praying for us and for leading us through the worst global crisis that any of us have ever experienced in our lifetimes?

One of the advantages, and conversely one of the drawbacks, of living in a global superpower such as America, is that we know how to recover, and we do it very well.

We are resilient and are always marching forward with confidence and determination. My fear is that we will forget the lessons of COVID-19 that shut our lives and the world down in 2020. We will forget to slow down and breathe. We will forget how to enjoy PB&J’s for lunch and tacos for dinner. We’ll simply go back to doing everything on the scale and magnitude that we used to enjoy before the pandemic hit.

I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that as a society we figure out how to balance our fresh freedoms against the backdrop of 2020’s devastation.

Let’s show our children and future generations to come our gratitude to God, our families and our leaders. Let’s keep our memories of the past year alive and let’s re-tell our stories of this horrific pandemic lest we forget what we had to overcome as a people and a nation.

Nalini Joseph lives in Salisbury. Email her at nalinijones1@hotmail.com.

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