I do not think it is much of a stretch to say that 2020 is a year that many of us will never forget. It was one of the most challenging years I have experienced in my lifetime. However, even amidst challenges, if we are looking, there are lessons we can learn.
There are three lessons that the challenges faced this year reinforced for me and will stick with me as we move forward.
The first is that we are all connected.
This does not mean we are the same, but we are all connected. If a global pandemic is not enough to convince you of that, nothing will.
Our actions impact not only ourselves, but they also affect others, some of which we are not even aware of. Imagine if each of us – before deciding – thought about how our actions might affect another person, what kind of world we would have. Especially if we knew the action might cause harm to someone else. I know this sounds a bit pollyannaish, but I still like the thought of it.
The second thing is change is going to happen. By choice or by force, it is going to happen.
We might as well grow accustomed to it, accept it, and prepare to adapt. The COVID-19 only sped up change that was inevitably going to occur. More people worked from home, more people took online classes, and more people used gig economy services than ever before.
As a result, we now commonly talk about what we call the “new norm”. We know things will never go back to what they once were, and many of the changes brought on by the pandemic will remain. Change is something you can try to resist or something you can prepare yourself for. Preparing for it is better.
Finally, we all must take personal responsibility for our actions.
Closely related to the first point, the knowledge that our actions impact others is an indicator that we must take responsibility for the role each of us is playing in creating our world. 2020 was a year filled with division and a lot of anger and frustration, but there were also people who did amazing things helping and serving others during the pandemic. Some people fostered divisiveness, while others worked for unity. These are choices that we make and are personally responsible for.
I, for one, am going to do my part to keep in mind that we share this world together and to consider how my actions may affect another person and make my decisions with that in mind. I am choosing unity because we are all in this thing called life together.
I sincerely hope 2021 will be a better year for us all. Let us each try to do our part.