DETROIT – Ten or fifteen years from now, it won’t be surprising if something really bad and awful is just referred to as 2020.
Those of us who didn’t grow up in the depression, or live through a world war, had our first massive extended common crisis last year.
In the early days of the pandemic, many of us were afraid to touch anything. It’s a strange war when your fears are dialed in on handshakes and doorknobs. This invisible enemy is impossible to detect. And too many people only realized they’d come in contact with it when they suddenly found they’d lost their sense of taste or smell. Or a fever set in.
Testing was a mess, especially early on. But the tests came back positive for almost 30 million Americans. Most of them fought it off at home, some barely noticed and others were hospitalized. That’s where sometimes, an overwhelmed nurse would hold an iPad so that someone could say a final, sadly inadequate, digital goodbye.
2020 was the year of so much grief. But without proper grieving.
Traditionally, when despair has come knocking, Americans have found a way to draw together. In many ways, that didn’t happen this time. Coronavirus had the opposite effect it seemed. Wearing a mask somehow became a political act. Online warfare broke out over the most unlikely of subjects. Something closer to actual warfare broke out in spats between Americans divided over proper COVID precautions.
As we head into the second year of COVID, the fights remain intense. Debates over the limits of power, and over how much is too much and how much just isn’t enough. From stimulus checks to restaurant restrictions, and for a long, long time we’ll be revisiting and debating the big decisions and whether they saved lives or lost them.
We’ve tried hard in our newscasts to celebrate the good. So many people did answer the bell. First responders who insisted they weren’t heroes when, so clearly, they were. Heroes seemed to show up all over the place. Whether they were organizing a drive-by birthday celebration or just leaving an extra fat tip to try to help a restaurant keep the lights on. The grocery store workers that kept showing up even though they knew their job was putting them right in the line of viral fire.
If you’re lucky -- if you didn’t lose a loved one, or a job, or a home. Maybe you’ll remember 2020 as the year your family was drawn together. When simpler things helped us slow down and reorder our priorities. Half a million lives lost will do that.
Watch the video above.