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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,053
December 16, 2020
2020 Was A Terrible Year
By Mike McManus

The year 2020 was the worst year in the lifetime of most Americans.

More than 300,000 of us died this year as a result of Covid-19. That's more than all of the 291,000 Americans who died in World War II. Refrigerated trucks line up outside of hospitals to keep corpses from rotting.

Experts estimate that half of those lives could have been saved if President Trump had urged Americans to wear masks. He was warned of the danger in February, but told the public the crisis would "disappear." His frequent rallies gathered thousands at each event, few of whom wore masks.

Republicans covered themselves with dishonor. When Trump failed to win any of 50 law suits, he appealed to the Supreme Court, and 126 Republican Members of Congress joined the suit that they knew had no chance. They deserve a stout challenge by Democrats in their home districts.

Those people who could, worked from home. But millions lost their jobs and income. Schools and colleges closed, offering classes only on line. The result has been a sharp decline in the academic scores of millions of children, particularly minorities. Parents, regardless of their means, had to homeschool their children.

Through most of 2020 people felt locked down and millions felt powerless. A TIME cover story noted that "individual nations had begun to curl up on themselves, motivated by misguided notions of their own power and self-sufficiency. In the worst months of 2020 we were a nation that could barely take care of itself, let alone help anyone else through a crisis." What does an 'America first' agenda mean in a country that fails its own citizens when it comes to protecting them from a deadly virus?" Hunger became a sad reality for millions.

In May, the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police was horrifying. As a cop knelt on his neck, Floyd kept saying, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe." That killing, reported on television, sparked mass demonstrations in dozens of cities that lasted for months. Along with similar killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmand Arbery in other cities, Americans were reminded how often throughout history, Black people have suffered from similar injustices.

Americans did learn some important lessons in 2020. We slowed down. We discovered what was important - such as playing board games and jigsaw puzzles with our children. We really listened to them and talked better with them.

When we were told we should not go outside, except for occasional exercise - walks in the sunshine became the thing we took joy in doing. We felt lucky to be able to do that, at least! We might drive a ways to capture a sunset, or tackle a hunting trail we had never seen before.

When museums finally reopened, we rediscovered paintings and sculptures that we love. To study the brushstrokes painted 400 years ago was humbling.

Yet we find ourselves bored, anxious and overworked - if we are lucky enough to have jobs. We've had lots of time to get to know ourselves better - that can leave us discouraged and less trusting of our judgements. We feel drained.

In New York City, when the number of deaths and continued to climb, one person went out on his fire escape to play Jimi Hendrix's "The Star Spangled Banner" on his guitar. The notes wailed and withered, swelled and crested, a story we had heard before, but needed to hear again. Many neighbors listened from their windows, clinging to the rugged majesty of the words.

President Trump himself contracted covid-19, but recovered quickly with expert physicians and medicines not available to most people. He claimed that if he could kick the disease, so could anyone else.

As I write, I am listening to wonderful Christmas carols. "O Come All Ye Faithful," which has inspired people for generations, "Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel." Joy fills my heart.

This week three wonderful things happened. A vaccine has been created that was given to thousands of health workers. And a second vaccine was announced. They will soon be available to all of us. Praise the Lord!

Third, President Elect Joseph Biden was formally approved by electors in the 50 states by a vote of 306 to 232. He announced that he would ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days after he is inaugurated.

This is a hopeful and promising end to a terrible year.


Copyright (c) 2020 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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