June 24th marks the anniversary of my weblog. It has taken many forms over the years, but today it is 18 years old – an adult on its own! Perhaps we can leave those sullen, uncommunicative teen years behind… Who am I kidding. I’m lucky to get one post out here every few months. However, life’s been kind of interesting of late.
Aside from marking the date, I thought it was probably a good idea to make a State of the World post for posterity – so that years later we can look back and maybe see what we learned from all this. 2020 has been…different. It started off full of promise, and then midway through March the entire world shut down. A novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, made its way from China and Asia to the rest of the world, and there is as yet no vaccine or 100% effective treatment. In the US, most students took a vacation for Spring Break and then never returned to the physical classroom. In Texas, we never shut down completely, but from about March 13th through mid-May, everything but essential businesses were shut down. If you could work from home, it became an absolute necessity, and suddenly the entire world became more familiar with video conferencing. Even now we are requested to remain at home unless necessary, perform only essential errands, and wear a mask in public to protect others.
The shutdowns and restrictions have been met with protests. There are people in the world who are absolutely certain there is some sort of conspiracy going on. The government at both state and federal levels is trying to balance safety with economic considerations. Sadly, the US is not faring as well on the global scorecard as other countries, partially due to those folks who feel that government-mandated limits to personal freedoms are unconstitutional. Masks may not be 100% effective, but they are proven to slow the spread, and that’s what we need to happen so that the world can recover, though “normal” is still a long way away.
In the middle of all this, a massive movement to counter racism arose, triggered by several instances of apparent police abuse of authority. This movement has flowed in interesting directions – increasing visibility and awareness of inequalities and garnering worldwide commitment to eliminating racism, but at the same time creating even more political divides at a time when we need to be coming together instead of falling apart.
Murder hornets were briefly a headline, and started the ongoing monthly Jumanji jokes. Every new announcement of something that could lead to a global catastrophe, even if it is the normal annual hurricane season or Saharan dust, is met with gallows humor as everyone wonders what is next.
Truth be told, we’re all tired of 2020. Many, if not most, people are on edge and at least a little depressed or angry about the current situation. Social media and the news tends to be very divisive. There are lots of “if you don’t agree with me then you hate me and therefore I hate you” types of lines drawn in the sand, and it is heartrending. Weltschmerz becomes the word of the day.
Through all of it, bright shining moments of hope shine through the funky dark parts. Friends and family come together, even if virtually or socially distanced, to support and uplift each other. Slowly we are finding ways to get some sort of normalcy back, even as we prepare for this virus to affect the way we live for many months to come. I’ve seen some beautiful acts of love in the community that help overturn some of the darkest moments of the last few months.
What is next? No idea. But I know that no matter what, God is in control, and that gives me peace. I pray that all of you can find some peace and hope for the future as well.