Robert Crohan/Staff Writer
When 2020 started, I was expecting a great year.
I had plans to travel across the world, campaign with fellow Panthers and witness historic progress on issues facing our country in a strong economy.
Everyone is obviously eager to leave these horrid times behind and return to life before disaster struck. But it would be selfish, in my view, to demand this when so many of our fellow human beings are suffering. Put simply, we need to abandon “normal” for “better.”
There was so much wrong with not only our country’s institutions, but also our world, that enabled the impact of these crises to be more like a speeding train than a finger prick.
Where to start? We need to absorb the horror and misery around us.
I have written in the past about economic inequities and the action we can take. Our government’s neglect of corporate action has left young Americans worse off than prior generations and Americans of color with disproportionately less wealth than white Americans.
To make up this lost ground, let’s take a break from toxic individualism and look out for our fellow man. Let’s save our dying service organizations. Let’s invest in underserved communities instead of our already well-funded armed forces. Let’s bring back competition instead of allowing Amazon to eat everyone else up and suppress wages.
Raising wages and universal basic services to keep families afloat has been tried in other developed countries, including Germany. Why can’t the United States try it? We can certainly pay for it, with a reprioritization of our wealth. A recession every decade under the current economic system is unsustainable.
These crises have revealed the ugly realities of racism. While reforming police, let’s bring more people of color into the political conversation. And for the love of all that is good in the world, we need to finally end our wealth gaps. We have watched presidential candidates debate this for decades. The time is ripe for change and both the Democratic and Republican parties have included more women and people of color.
We have been warned about a pandemic for years, and because they are inevitable, it is essential that we establish the measures to prepare. We failed hysterically. More emphasis must be placed on public health and infrastructure, and we must restore faith in our experts.
Globally, people continue to be used for profit and the consequences are horrifying. Across much of the developing world, supply chains have allowed countries to go into debt and the unchecked legacy of imperialism has led to global famine and poor sanitary standards.
The U.S. and its allies, which are committed to basic freedoms, should do much more meaningful work with the rest of the world, to ensure that no one goes hungry or dies of preventable disease in the 21st century. This includes transitioning economies away from nonrenewable resources.
Maybe this famine will bring to our attention just how well many Americans live compared with much of the rest of the world. So maybe the next time we want to scream at our phones, we will remember the starving child in Somalia.
So too must our relationship with the natural world change. The perpetual loss of habitat combined with abuse of animals has birthed most pandemics. Is it any wonder that we are in a mass extinction, and rabies is increasing in the rapidly suburbanizing Florida?
Maybe we will finally learn that wild animals not only deserve our respect as our incredible neighbors on this earth, but are also unimaginably dangerous. At this point, after so many viruses, going near bats should be a human rights violation.
To achieve this, we must take the initiative with green action, perhaps a climate corps to create millions of well-paying jobs that will rebuild our society to halt climate change. If other countries adopt this, we can ensure a healthier earth for our children.
Additionally, we must restore leadership, because nothing will get done unless those with the means of bringing change actually intend to do it. Let’s pick passionate candidates and push them to listen to the voices of the most marginalized. Perhaps we can push both parties forward.
On the global scale, the US must restore its role as the world’s leader in health, safety and justice.
To get started with this new normal, we need to come and work together. Perhaps our leaders will understand the importance of unity and resolve, and remind America that we have persevered because we can do anything. Indeed, they won’t have to look far for inspiration: George W. Bush after 9/11, Ronald Reagan after the Challenger Disaster and Barack Obama after the Pulse shooting.
As humans, we have used our God-given strengths to reform our world for a changing future, and this moment calls for the very best we can offer. Maybe we will look back on 2020 as not the year from hell, but the year that set off the beginning of a much safer, more just and creative world where we all can utilize our abilities to give back. Indeed, that is what happened after the Black Death, World War II and so many other historical crises.
So let’s put on our out-of-the-comfort-zone gloves and get to work.
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