We have all heard the term 20/20 when you have to do that eye test for school, work, or your drivers license. 20/20, perfect vision. You can see good from close up and from far away. Nothing is out of focus for you. Yet the year with the same numerals as this optic diagnosis could not have been further from perfect. For the whole of humanity, there was literally nowhere to hide from what the world was going to offer up.
The year rings in like any other. Hopes for a brighter future emerge at the dawn of each new year. Many look at it as a fresh start or being born again. If you have been one of those who constantly comes to the table with a long list of resolutions that are a lot like the ones you had before, you learn over time that when its your time to change things in your life, there are no specialized dates involved. The only thing you need is the will to move forward with change, not some magical time of year.
Be that as it may, 2020 comes in with hopes for better among us all. The first couple of months weren’t too bad for America. We get to a point where unemployment is at a 50 year low. Our economy is booming. Those 50 years are just as significant for fans of KC Chiefs find themselves winners of the Super Bowl. 50 years since their last Super Bowl win. During the month of February, we began to here rumblings on the news from China. A virus was spreading and doing so rather quickly. If you understand the layout of China, they have 1.4 billion people there. The United States have about 330 million people. We have more land in the U.S. as well as more land that is able to be farmed here.
Raise your hand if you ever heard of Wuhan, China before 2020? I know I had not. If you look it up, you see that you are 2-3 million more people in population for Wuhan than New York City. The largest city in America is 70% the size of a city you have never heard of. Along with this, your living conditions are well, less than perfect. You are living on top of one another. One day on your Wuhan journey, you end up getting hungry. You see the signs for the local market. Well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Let’s just see what they have to offer. It’s about that time you realize you aren’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy. Snakes, dogs, and cats all there for your purchase. Some of which are still alive/fresh. Along with those are the excellent bats on a stick. While this has never been 100% on what was the exact cause of Covid-19, it was among many of the possibilities. If you listen to others, there was a biological lab in Wuhan. It would have been easy for someone to have let a little something out just to see how devastating it would be. There is that; plus China is a country that isn’t as forthcoming about things that happen inside their borders. Think of North Korea but with the ability to make billions of dollars via the items manufactured in their country.
Now look at the timing of a pandemic. Right as China is about to get hit with a huge rise in tariffs coming into the U.S., there is disease that will sweep across the world that will sicken millions and kill those who are older and/or more medically susceptible to the effects of the virus. What are made to do early on in March? Make decisions that would bring this country to its knees. For a disease that has less that a 1% chance of killing someone, who is going to volunteer to be the one? You or someone you know? Maybe it would be someone you did not know at all, but that option could be given to someone who did not know you. Sounds like an old Twilight Zone episode doesn’t it? Say yes and you will be rich, but someone you don’t know will die. Well that an easy answer, until the next person asked is someone you don’t know. We as a nation have to stop to ask ourselves what is more important; carrying on or caring for one another. At what cost will one have versus the other.
Along with the cost of a life, we find that love for thy fellow man only goes so far. Within days of closures, a roll of toilet paper, paper towels, or Lysol spray were nowhere to be found. If you needed bread, milk, or canned goods, you better have been to the market before word broke. While many had more than enough to survive, those who were older, poorer, or simply too weak to challenge those rushing to hoard all the could gather. Our Black Fridays were no longer about cheap TVs or computers. Running you down for the last 4 pack of Charmin was no big deal though. Humanity at its finest. While those who realized they had more than enough felt their duty was to sell back to us, but only if it was multiple times of the original price. If that is you and you have made it this far, congratulations. You managed to save your body at the cost of your soul.
If the country needed a reason to wake up in the middle of a standstill, we certainly provided one. A man is arrested. The obvious thing to do is instead of placing him a vehicle or anything else is to apply pressure to his body from his head to his feet. All the while, you are being told by this person that they can’t breathe. Do you get up? You let a man die. No one is saying he was a perfect human being. However, the situation did not call for the restraint that was given. So, as has happened before, protests begin. Because we have been ordered to stay at home, that is pushed aside because of marches. Marches that point to a side of America that she just does not want to show for pictures. Her racist angle. Please only get the red, white, and blue; no black and blue please. We also only want fireworks for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Please socially distance yourself for those events as well.
George Floyd and Breonna Taylor became rallying cries for BLM. For the first time in decades, you began to see a country see things from as close to one point of view. Closer than it ever had. But its moment was fleeting. Marches turned to riots and looting. When someone uses your battle cry to burn down homes, loot stores, and beat down others who held nothing against you, your cause dies quickly. Not because it did not hold merit, but because others who were not interested in equality hijacked it to give a reason for their actions. How much honor do you bring another when you burn and loot in their name?
With the facts that lives matter, here in St. Louis, we have managed to murder more this year than the year before. All while the city was told to stay at home for most of that time. You do your best to stay away from the areas with the worst reputation. That doesn’t always help though. We’ve had people shot and killed in crossfire on the interstate by the airport. We’ve had children carjacking others at gunpoint and shooting those whom they rob. What is the answer to a 15-year old who shows you a gun and says to get out of your car? My son’s friend was carjacked right down the street. All in a pandemic. All when everyone was suppose d to be at home.
Sports showed us many things. We can shorten a season. We can put people in a bubble. We can stick cardboard cutouts in the stands. We can rent out an island to have MMA matches. All the while we are doing this, we come to see many things. From my viewpoint, it all sucks. I don’t want a 60 game baseball season. I want 162 games. I want a crowd going nuts. I need people in the stands when the Blues score. I need people in the crowd when Lebron crosses over and makes someone look stupid. I need kids chasing fouls in the stands. Even though I’m not there, I need to see that. If I don’t, it takes something away from it that the athletes can’t put back in. One more thing to add. If I can’t see OSU v Michigan, I don’t need a college football season.
At our final point, we have watched as two old men who would be better served aboard a floating rest home played shuffleboard and smokey trashy stogies rather than argue over who should be the one running the country. One is way arrogant while the other isn’t exactly the person you ask to hold on to your marbles for safe keeping. Along with their bickering, we find ourselves as divided a country as we have ever been. There are ways I feel this nation is more damaged than it was when the Rebs and Yanks were at Vicksburg. We have to find common ground for us all to live with one another. Nothing is every perfect, but the way to find your own version of perfection is to take two steps back and see what is important versus what you can do without.
Death has been the mantra of our perfect visioned year. From those we have known, to others we have watched for years. Our list offers us those we feel as gone too soon and others who fought bravely and by themselves while taking their last breaths alone. Our panic in the eyes of danger was only overcome when our leaders imposed laws against us taking away freedoms we were damned to live without. Isn’t it funny how what may be in other’s best interest is such a unimaginable thing to do if it involves any ounce of your freedom?
I live my life by a code that I have endured to keep. That among all of this disaster and chaos lies lessons that we can learn. Each of us stands to be educated by them whether it be by the actions of others or ourselves. By not taking that time and effort, we let the sacrifice of others be in vain. Just the same as you waste water for a thirsty man to drink, why let death, tragedy, ignorance, greed, and selfishness be committed only to have them be repeated? If we can learn just one thing from this year, I pray that you bless every second you have. There is not one thing more valuable in this world than time. Time with those you love, those you cherish, those you need, and those who need you.
Be the joy you wish for others to see in themselves. Let the be an example for them.