New Hope for a New
The dawn of a new year is a natural time for new beginnings. It often provides the impetus to release stagnation and fill our lungs with fresh air. Of course, the difference between 11:59 on December 31 and 12:00 on January 1 is a construct, but sometimes a construct comes at the right time. The advent of 2021 brings us a much-needed opportunity to embrace hope and promote change. While we’re taking enormous global issues with us into the new year, we have reasons to nurture hope that this year will be better. As we move into a season of greater action and progress, the clouds are breaking up and the blue sky is beginning to peek through.
Hope for Health
COVID-19 tops everyone’s list of things we’d like to consign to 2020. We’re so done with the pandemic, but, unfortunately, the coronavirus isn’t following the Gregorian calendar and really doesn’t care that we’re sick of it. Our hope springs from the development and distribution of effective vaccines. However, with surges happening in the here and now, it’s still imperative to listen to the science: wear masks, stay home as much as possible, and do lots of yoga to keep your body and mind healthy (science may not have spoken on this particular subject but the anecdotal evidence is clear!).
Yes, it sucks (except for the yoga). Yes, we’re tired of it. Yes, help is on the way. We’re very hopeful that we’ll soon be able to return to the activities and communities we miss so much. But let’s be cautious not to glorify “getting back to normal,” because normal wasn’t that great for much of the Earth’s population and the Earth itself. We can do better in 2021 by taking this opportunity to prioritise equality, sustainability, and ethical business practices as we remake our institutions in the post-COVID era.
Hope for the Planet
The climate emergency took a back seat on our list of things to stress about for most of 2020, however, extreme natural disasters, from wildfires to hurricanes, didn’t get the memo that they should chill out and let us deal with the pandemic. Evidence of climate change in the form of extreme weather makes it apparent, in case anyone still has doubts, that this is not a problem for future generations but must be addressed immediately, preferably yesterday. As we begin to emerge from this public health emergency, it’s vitally important to remember that the Earth is still in crisis.
The power of some climate change deniers is on the wane, and 2021 must be the year that world leaders once again attempt to make environmental policies that respond to the urgency of the situation. We have hope that meaningful progress can be made and we must all continue to fight for it through our individual actions and, critically, by supporting greater global cooperation. The election of a U.S. president who will rejoin the Paris Agreement and has demonstrated that climate is priority when forming his government is a step in the right direction.
Hope for Humans
Amidst unprecedented health and economic crises, millions of people took to the streets in 2020 to demonstrate against the violence and oppression of systemic racism. These voices will continue to be heard in 2021 as we work to dismantle the systems that have historically undermined people of colour. These important changes won’t happen by themselves so they’ll require our ongoing vigilance and participation.
The consciousness-raising begun by Black Lives Matter has resulted in a worldwide movement demanding reforms. We can work to hold our institutions and, in particular, the people we do business with (meaning every company you buy things from!), accountable to the promises they made when the streets were full of protesters. We have hope that 2021 can be a sea-change year for advances for equality and human rights.
Hope for the Future
The stroke of midnight doesn’t magically fix our problems, but it still feels good to see 2020 in the rear-view. Let hope for the future motivate our work as we emerge from the pandemic and turn our energies toward remaking our planet into a more sustainable and equitable place for everyone. There are sunnier days ahead, my friends!