Guys, we’ve survived yet another long, grueling year together.
We watched as extremists laid siege to our nation’s Capitol building, with some of those who breached the facility seeming intent on hanging Vice President Mike Pence.
Some of us remained glued to the TV well into the morning as Congress’ men, women and children debated whether to certify election results, which at one point nearly turned to fisticuffs.
We read update after update as law enforcement and Justice Department girded for mass prosecutions amid nearly unprecedented levels of asking Americans to tattle on each other for looting and pillaging lawmakers’ offices.
We saw a surge in COVID-19 cases, with the highest numbers of deaths and new cases yet, even as hospitals and health departments were rolling out the vaccine.
When Twitter and Facebook banned President Donald Trump, we took to our respective social media platforms to debate whether it was good or bad as the tech giants faced a likely reckoning on what role they should play in moderating content.
We even watched — or rather didn’t — as PBS canceled the widely panned “Caillou” more than a decade after the last new episode was released.
We’ve had highs, and mostly lows. A lot has happened since we rang in the new year, so here’s looking to 2022.
Wait. What do you mean we are only 13 days into the year?
It looks like we haven’t left behind the struggles of 2020 — or as the memes suggest, we are now living in twenty-twenty-won. And while our disparate politics and continuing pandemic are laying waste to yet another year, this year has already taken an especially dark turn.
The images we saw out of the nation’s Capitol were terrifying, maddening and depressing, even if not altogether unexpected. They come as families mourn the thousands of Americans who die daily from the fast-spreading respiratory virus we can’t seem to slow. (Guys, seriously, wear your masks, keep your distance, stay home if you’re sick, and please, get tested if you had potential contact or exhibit possible COVID symptoms.)
This is a lot to take in. For some, the 24-hour news coverage and social media barrage of negative information has likely caused skyrocketing blood pressure. For others, despair.
While an informed public is part of a well-functioning democracy, it is OK to turn off the news and step away from hyper-partisan internet debates to enjoy some fresh air, a relaxing book or such light-hearted television as a Ted Bundy documentary.
For those who can’t shake their funk, who feel desperate and alone, remember that it’s OK to seek help. Before doing anything rash, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or I’m Alive National Hopeline Network at 800-784-2433. For non-crisis care, contact a mental health care provider, such as Beckman Center for Mental Health Services, which has six locations across the Lakelands. Find the nearest Beckman office at beckmancenter.com/offices.
Beyond this, we have become too fractured as a nation, and if we are going to work together through all of this, we need to do better. We need a return to civility, to integrity, to honesty. We need to think about such things as the common good and how we treat others — really something most grade-schoolers perfected.
If we can do all that, we will get through this together, and at some point, 2021 will go the way of “Caillou” and we’ll bid it adieu.