2021 is Finally Giving Me Hope
By Ben Bon
If you have made it this far, congratulations. You have been living in the world of the pandemic for an entire year. You have also made it through four years of hell. America was founded on division, classism, and bigotry and these evils were brought to the forefront when a man who embodies all of them was elected president. Now there seems to be a glimmer of hope. If you were a part of getting us where we are going by voting, organizing, donating, and struggling, you deserve a big congratulations.
We’re not out of the woods, yet. 2021 should be a year that focuses on things that bring us together. I know many of us wanted a socialist revolution with Bernie Sanders, but Joe Biden is who we have and he’s been doing mostly a decent job so far. He has already lifted the Transgender ban in the military and the US is rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. That said, his stance on college debt isn’t what we were hoping for.
We must acknowledge where we are coming from if we are going to build a better future. The fact is, 70 million people stood for a man that wasn’t able to denounce white supremacy. Perhaps only a small portion of right-wing voters are radicals, but to take from Karl Marx, “there is a spectre haunting America.”
There was a resurgence of domestic terrorism in America because of Trump. For the most explicit time since Jim Crow, the government was in league with radical white supremacist groups. Trump tried to make a farce out of our democracy by encouraging his followers to storm the capital, and worse, people listened. Also during the past four years, companies made billions of dollars while enabling fascism. It took an attempted coup for them to do anything. Companies banning Trump from social media and deplatforming Parler shows that finally the adults may be in the room. Hopefully it’s not too late and we will no longer be manipulated by gaslighting and fear-mongering. That certainly remains to be seen.
Where does that leave the rest of us? There are cultural, social, and if you haven’t noticed, health dilemmas that we are going to have to buckle up and get through if we are going to go back to a world of music festivals and indoor dining. Not to mention, a lot of working together if we are going to create a world with more equity and equality.
Covid is like a bad blizzard that has shut us all in. We are probably not going to get to see our favorite band this summer, but it is not unimaginable that we might be permitted to attend small get-togethers with masks on in late fall. Hell, a man lost an election and people tried to overthrow the government, so it is not so far-fetched that if people want to drink, they will.
The good news, when it comes to the pandemic, the end is inevitable. We have more than one vaccine, so if enough people are smart enough to take them, the sun will rise. That is not an excuse to throw a covid party. It is just a sign that all those good habits you were going to implement, and books you told yourself you were going to read, might be worth executing right about now.
Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. The end will come with a combination of continued social distancing, medications that alleviate symptoms, and enough vaccinations. America’s population is roughly 325 million people. If we can vaccinate 100 million people by May, that means the end is in site, domestically speaking. Suddenly a realistic goal is expecting to see your family for the holidays instead of one more awful zoom session. How quickly we can return to “normal” will depend on how well people follow restrictions (and thus lower cases) and how effectively government responds to opening businesses, distributing vaccines, and everything else.
Although the Trump Administration is no longer handling the covid crisis, it has shed light on many flaws of how our government has handled all health crises. Inequality is not going to be solved with stimulus checks. I have a terrible feeling that a lot of money is not going to reach the homeless population or the working poor.
Getting the vaccine distributed efficiently and effectively has proven to be a difficult undertaking. Because of this, masks might be a fashion statement for the next few years. However, an executive order was just signed to help re-enrollement with the Affordable Care Act, making it more accessible to those who are uninsured after losing a job. It isn’t socialized healthcare or universal income, but it is a step in the right direction.
Globally, we all must be patient. There have been riots in the Netherlands because of the implemented curfew and protests in Israel because of the lock-downs.
Speaking of protests, 2020 was a monumental year for social change due to the world-shaking demonstrations after the death of George Floyd. Black Lives Matter has made significant headway in the battle against police brutality. In many major cities across the country, there have been bans on tear gas, stricter body camera rules, and stricter transparency laws among police concerning hate crimes. These alone won’t solve our issues of social justice but they are a good place to start.
Amanda Gorman set the stage for the next four years with her incredible poetry during the inauguration. There has been recent newfound attention and representation of BIPOC artists in the mainsteam, and it is long overdue. Art can change the world. I have hope now more than ever that there will be a change is gonna come. Black Lives Matter will be a philosophy that the next generation will know and remember. We must remember that Kamala Harris is vice president, and we all know what happened to Obama’s VP.
The new “roaring twenties” might actually be a good time. History shows that after major disasters people are more inclined to celebrate. Although it might not be a sexual revolution comparable to the ‘60s, there is a lot of liberation that deserves to be acknowledged. With emergences in pop culture surrounding Elliot Page coming out as trans and Jojo Siwa recently coming out, being LBGTQ no longer has the stigma it did for previous generations. Instead, it is something that is celebrated in the mainstream. What is most important today is if you are a good person; Ellen Degeneres was spared no grief for her bad behavior regardless of her identification. People in power are finally starting to be held accountable for their horrible actions. There have been too many revelations about men in Hollywood to count.
Even though our day to day might not be enthralling, the world around us is moving and changing fast. A change is coming, but it might already be here. The most important takeaways from the new normal is to be a decent human being who takes care of other people and looks out for those who who have less than you. Plus being weird is coming back into style, and beyond all predictions, we might make it to 2022.