Conventional wisdom teaches us to not use the words “always” or “never” because most things seldom are always or never anyone thing. Even so, it is hard to imagine many people that won’t be happy to see the year 2020 leave. One can almost imagine an image where “Baby New Year 2021” Kicks Old Man 2020 out the door with all the exclamations of “Don’t let the door hit you on the backside!”
The trouble is, Baby New Year 2021 cannot make and keep the promises we most want. But I want to suggest that there are some things that we can do individually that can help make a difference.
I admit that I can get very down and discouraged at times. And yet, I think of myself as an optimist. I also try to look for things to compliment or otherwise express appreciation to checkout clerks, janitors and other service workers. My glass is generally half full and not half empty.
Doing What You Can: I have been repeatedly struck by the ways the stores, both chain stores and local stores have adapted and stepped up during the COVID Crisis to be able to stay open, in business and serve their customers and communities. They have had to think creatively and outside the box or re-think how they do what they do.
It is tempting, and I have seen it a lot, for people and organization to get so mired in the misery that they are unable to move forward. We all want life to be normal again, though I hesitate to say “get back to normal.” Maybe “Normal”, not unlike the golden days, was not all that good. At the same time, I shy away from pronouncements about what our “new normal” will look like.
Look for the opportunities and ways to meet needs
I live in a small community of amazing people who have been putting energy into helping the less fortunate in our community have access to food and other needs. They expanded the reach of the local food pantry and were able to put additional funds and grant money to help feed more people. They have also worked very hard at simply keeping spirits up, staying positive.
Currently part of the outreach includes organizing meals for COVID patients in our community. They never stop trying to come up with something new. Most recently, Santa and Mrs. Claus coming into town on Fire trucks and a local Christmas Outdoor Decorating Contest and Snow man building contest. There is a community Facebook page that keeps current information and people are welcome to post needs. Folks are even allowed to grumble, although that is my least favorite part of the page because it seems unproductive. But it does allow people to express frustrations.
Develop skills for Critical Thinking Memes, tweets and Facebook posts can be good for speaking off the cuff, they can be fun and entertaining, but they can also block genuine and healing communication. I love Facebook and some memes, still haven’t gotten my head wrapped around Twitter. However, I do not base my political thoughts or religious theology on them. I want more depth. We need more depth. Part of it comes from reading sound resources, asking good questions and not accepting ideas uncritically. Fact Check and question, is this really true?
Learn to Agree to Disagree Agreeably This is an important ability to learn. It seems to be in short supply. But the likelihood that you will change the mind of a friend, neighbor or stranger, whose opinions, religious views or politics are totally opposite yours, is slim. So why not resolve to listen deeply, and seek common ground and when all else fails, agree to disagree.
Ask “Why” ” Why Do You Think That? ” and “Where does that Come from?” often. If you want an easy way to determine bias, in newspapers or social media, pay attention tot he picture of individuals that accompany the articles. For instance, pictures that accompany articles or posts that favor President Trump, are going to show him calm, or commanding. The pictures that accompany articles or posts that are against him, will be unflattering at best, and maybe a pose that is menacing, or comical. You can apply this rule of thump to any national or international politician or personality. Call it trite, but a picture can be worth more than a thousand words. The pictures that are chosen can speak volumes.
Do not use labels when talking about people. If out of all the things on this list, I could only have one wish for 2021 and beyond, it would be this. Do not use labels. Stop it! Labels are for cans or jars. People deserve better. As soon as you label someone conservative, or far right, or left or radical, you have demeaned them, minimized who they are and blocked conversation. Instead of labeling people politically, or religiously, why not simply use their names? Why not say, my cousin John thinks that we should do one thing, but my neighbor Jim thinks there is a better way?
I believe that exploring what your cousin John thinks or what your neighbor suggests and asking them why they think that could be productive. But losing labels and inflammatory language is essential. THat is what I think anyway,
Not holding back the tide,
Copyright 2020 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com