As Thanksgiving 2020 arrives, it is time to take stock and express our gratitude for all those who have made our lives both possible and fruitful this past year.
Without question, 2020 has been the most challenging year of our lives. The global pandemic hit full force throughout the world as more than 55 million people have been infected with COVID-19 and 1.3 million have died. The pandemic killed more people than any event since World War II. It also triggered a global recession, as economies around the world shut down to protect their citizens against the spread of the virus. It didn’t always work as people resisted even the simplest measures such as wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding crowds.
In the United States these dual crises, which were inextricably linked, were heightened by the racial crisis following the May murder here in Minneapolis of George Floyd, whose reverberations echoed around the globe. If this wasn’t enough tragedy for one year, political divisions — often encouraged from the top — split America into dueling camps and frequent disagreements about basic facts and reduced trust in medical scientists.
As the year winds down, I am quite sure all of us are ready to turn the page to a brighter vision for America and the world: a world in which we live together in harmony, where we recognize that all people are created equal and judged — to quote Dr. Martin Luther King — “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” and where we work together to ensure the health and safety of all people and offer all working people economic opportunities providing living wages.
There is indeed “light at the end of tunnel.” While the virus rages virtually out of control in America and elsewhere, three major companies have announced vaccines with effectiveness ranging from 70% to 95% and the promise of producing billions of doses in 2021. While it may be mid-2021 before most of us get access to the vaccine, we can look ahead to bringing COVID-19 under control and a more peaceful year ahead.
As we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, this is a good time to be grateful for all that we have and to express that gratitude to others. I suggest you make up a list of all that you are grateful for this Thanksgiving and share it with your loved ones.
Here is my Top Ten list of people to whom I am grateful:
1. I am grateful for Penny, my wife of 51 years, who has been my constant companion throughout this period.
2. For our family members, Jeff and Renee, Dylan and Stella and Jon and Jeannette, Freeman and Jade, and the opportunity to watch you adapt, grow, and thrive during COVID-19.
3. For our many abiding friends who have been so faithfully in our lives, either via Zoom or socially distanced gatherings.
4. For all those we lost to COVID-19 and the joy they brought to our lives, and all those who recovered and returned to full health.
5. For everyone on the frontlines of hospitals, grocery stores, delivery trucks, stores, factories and farms who risked their lives to enable ours.
6. For the corporate leaders, health care leaders and educational leaders who transformed their organizations overnight to keep serving their employees, customers, and students, especially the medical scientists who created life-saving vaccines.
7. For companies like Zoom that enabled us to connect safely with colleagues, teachers and friends in order to continue our work.
8. For those who have suffered from discrimination, and yet have risen above it to help others.
9. For the 156 million Americans who voted in this fall’s election, teaching us once again that every vote counts and every citizen has the right to vote.
10. Finally, for everyone who worked on this year’s election to preserve American democracy for future generations, making this the most secure and fraud-free in our history and putting the Constitution ahead of their political interests.