The arrival of a new year marks a time for reflection, as to both the year that has passed and the year that lies ahead. In the words of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson: Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go;Ring out the false, ring in the true. To put it another way, we might ask ourselves, “Where have we been — and where are we going?” The latter question asks us to foresee the future, which by definition is an impossible task.
Though we may make our best guess to predict what may lie ahead — and to plan accordingly — none of us has a crystal ball. The vicissitudes of life more often than not throw us curve balls that lay to waste even the best-laid of our plans for the year to come. Who among us imagined on December 31, 2019, that 2020 would bring a world-wide pandemic that already has killed more than 330,000 of our fellow Americans, devastated our economy, and directly impacted the lives of each and every one of us? As bad as 2020 has been, we dread to contemplate what 2021 might have in store for us.
There is no certainty that 2021 will be any better. However, the former question is equally as tricky. Answering it requires both introspection and self-awareness, two qualities that typically are in short supply, even during a pandemic when most of us are house-bound for more hours of every day than we ever have experienced. But trying to figure out the, “Why?” of what we have done with our lives is essential if we are to meet the challenges of the future. As the philosopher said, if we do not learn from our mistakes, we are condemned to repeat them. We do not pretend to have all (or any) of the answers, but we do know that in the difficult days ahead one thing is true: Each of us must step up to do our part to ensure the safety of ourselves, our loved ones, and everyone around us. We all have a role to play in combating COVID-19 (by wearing masks, not gathering in large groups, and maintaining a physical distance from others wherever we may be) AND in helping those who desperately are in need of assistance because of the devastating economic effects of the pandemic. Although a New Year is here, our problems are not magically going away. We wish all of our readers a happy, safe, and healthy New Year.