Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Somehow, we have survived. Today is the final day of 2020, a year that has been argued to be one of the worst years in history. I’m sure that’s an exaggeration. After all, with the pandemic, I’m sure it’s not as bad as the plague was thanks to communication technology and hygiene. Even with the rise of neo-fascism, we were still spared the holocaust. Even with the economic struggles, we didn’t have a full-blown economic depression. Nonetheless, it has probably been the worst year in recent history, with what felt like a constant barrage of one tragedy after another. Thankfully, it’s over.
But is it? I think we all are having this little moment of collective relaxation thinking that, surely, the worst is over. Unfortunately, blaming these difficulties on the year itself amounts to little more than superstition. Tomorrow is 2021, but the year itself is an arbitrary point in space where our planet is, to the best of our knowledge, in the same general location around the sun in its orbit, but it is still arbitrary. Some years ago, the new year began on April 1 (hence “April Fool’s Day”).
Don’t get me wrong. There are some great signs. We have good reasons for hope, such as a new vaccine for the Coronavirus from not one but two pharmaceutical companies so maybe, just maybe, the vaccines will be affordable to most of us. My regular readers recognize that my own personal political proclivities lean towards liberal, so I am also very hopeful that in a few weeks we should have a new administration who hopefully will reverse some of the actions of the current president, but by the same logic, roughly half of our nation is uneasy about this. Time will tell, of course, although sometimes that’s not enough. To be honest, considering some of the things that have happened in the past four years, I still don’t understand how anybody can still support the president unless they are intentionally interpreting these events to support their own visions.
Okay, enough of the proselytizing. No, the reality is that we are on a streak, and an arbitrary date in time is not going to automatically bring that to an end. The vaccinations will take time to be distributed widely enough, and to become sufficiently effective to declare the pandemic emergency over. As our political leaders continue to fight among themselves, there seems to be no immediate relief for those struggling with un- or underemployed Americans. And I still don’t have a date.
So, what chance do we have? Actually, that last, odd, highly personal little bit is foreshadowing of where I want this blog post to go. See, big things, like the pandemic, social injustice, and the current divisions among us take time. They won’t end tomorrow or change on January 20 with Biden and Harris take the reins. But the new year brings with it hope, hope that we should hold onto despite what idiots like I say. It’s a new year, and that makes it a great time for us to reflect on the past year and decide what we want for ourselves in the new. Maybe we can’t change society, but we can change ourselves, and that’s a great place to start.
The Masons try to improve society by improving ourselves. We want to lead by example, and that’s the true opportunity offered by 2021. Already this year, I’ve managed, finally, to procure a home for myself, and have been improving it. For 2021, I want to continue this trend, and there is plenty left to do. Today, for example, I fixed a toilet, tested the upstairs bathtub, and figured out the steps I need to unplug the upstairs sink. No, it’s still plugged, but I’m getting there, although to be fair, I did fix the drain plug so it’s better. I also want to find a steady revenue stream (no, this blog still doesn’t pay), and start making connections in the area.
So, yes, be optimistic for the new year, but place that optimism where it is at least useful. What is it that you would like to accomplish for yourself in 2021? Perhaps we need some contingency plans, such as what we will do if the economy and unemployment does not rebound? I’m making plans to not only seek additional work, but I’m also considering a way to bring in money if I continue struggling to find gainful employment. What’s more, I have plans on how to improve upon myself in 2021, to make myself happier, and a better person. And no doubt, you’ll be on this journey with me if you continue reading my blog.
Whatever happens, I do wish you the happiest 2021 possible.