Hello, 2021

Editor-in-Chief reflects on 2020, encourages change for new year


Graphic Illustration by Blake Loria

Being seen as the light in the darkness, many wonder: Will 2021 be better than a year of COVID-19, social unrest and political unease? Although the new year is only about two weeks in, 2021 is following similar trends to 2020. In order to ensure this year is better, Americans must unite to see a change to the current environment.

“I cannot wait for 2021.”

“This was just a bad year; next year will be better.”

“Thank God 2020 is over.”

It is time to share some news many Americans need to hear: Although 2020 is over, that does not mean the coronavirus pandemic is over, or that things will immediately go back to normal. 2020 was not just “a bad year,” with 2021 destined to be better.

More importantly than the thought of a new year inherently being better than the previous one, Americans need to focus on ensuring 2021 is a better year by taking responsibility for our shortcomings of last year.

Although there is always some form of conflict and struggle in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is unique in the way it has impacted Americans directly. The one hope 2021 does seems to bring is the distribution of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine began distribution in December of 2020 after the U.S. Food and Food Administration authorized its use on Dec. 11. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25,480,725 doses of the vaccine have been distributed across the U.S. as of Monday, Jan. 11, with 8,987,322 people who have received the first dose of the vaccine.

The apparent decreasing awareness–or rather lack of care–surrounding COVID-19 safety precautions is all too prevalent today. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was in January of 2020, and a year later, the conversation of whether or not to wear masks or social distance or even shut down is still raging. Many citizens are still not taking the virus seriously, and although 2020 was a difficult year for many, everyone must take action to ensure the country does not continue to face these issues.

From the cancelation of church services and high school milestones to the permanent closure of small businesses and the rising suicide rates in the country, it is unclear how much longer the country can continue in the current environment. While the news of a vaccine and the numbers of those vaccinated rising is good news for many, Americans must recognize the virus is still active, and with new strands in circulation, everyone must continue wearing masks, socially distancing and sanitizing to ensure shut downs are not necessary moving forward.

Furthermore, COVID-19 was not the only historical event continuing its impact into 2021. With a new year comes a new normal everyone must adjust to. With Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer, the fiasco that was the 2020 presidential election, and most recently, the storming of the capital building in Washington D.C., political unease and tension are abundant and only getting worse while the country waits for the transition to a Biden presidency.

According to The Washington Post, 66.3% of the voting-eligible population turned out to the polls in the 2020 election, more than any other presidential election in over 120 years. It is evident Americans are paying attention to politics, but misinformation and bias is rampant with that shift as the political climate changes and more people are paying attention. 2021 may or might not be the figurative light in the darkness many hope it will be, but there is one thing everyone should recognize: 2021 is not a year of new beginnings, but instead a chance to reflect on 2020 and realize it is no longer acceptable to do the bare minimum while the country’s state worsens.

To be clear, fear mongering is not helpful either. There is no way to know if 2021 will be as bad or even worse than 2020, and the misplaced hope of 2021 being a better year is not an overly deep subject. However, it is ignorant to believe the new year will be better for reasons such as a new president entering the white house or the development of the vaccine.

After a year of dealing with the “new normal,” there may be a chance the country will return to maskless outings and uneventful national news, but until then, America must come together stronger than ever to finally beat the coronavirus and unite during a time of division.