by Nora OBrien-Suric, PhD
We are beginning a new year together in the midst of ongoing, significant challenges. COVID-19 cases and deaths are still rising across the country, with a devastatingly disproportionate impact along racial and socioeconomic lines. Economic strain resulting from the pandemic continues to batter our communities.
And now, we are witnessing violent, hate-fueled attacks on the foundations of our democracy and our ideals of free and fair elections.
Many in our community are hurting, scared or anxious. You may have asked yourself, as I have: What now? What can I do?
Here is what I hope we will do together, in 2021 and beyond:
- Continue using our voice to hold our elected officials, and each other, accountable.
- Take better care of each other.
- Keep pushing for solutions to the barriers and systems that uphold inequality so that we all may have the same opportunities to achieve a healthy, fulfilled life.
And throughout it all, we must hold on to hope. It may not come easily, especially in the midst of the multi-faceted trauma we have experienced recently. But working actively to maintain hope—hope that we have the ability and strength to forge a better future together—is one of the most important things we can do.
Here are some places I have found hope recently:
- Seeing our elected officials return to the halls of Congress just hours after being driven out by a violent insurrection, in order to fulfill their duty to the American people and certify the results of the presidential election.
- Witnessing the leaders who choose our country and our democratic ideals over party lines, and those who realize that seeking justice and fairness will always be more powerful than sowing division and hatred.
- The first steps toward our emergence from the worst parts of the pandemic; namely, the development and launch of not one, but multiple COVID-19 vaccines within a year of the pandemic’s start—truly a historic scientific accomplishment.
I recognize that our work has only begun, that more challenges lie ahead and that hope is just an empty gesture without action to support it. But as we move forward in 2021, I promise to maintain hope in the work we will do together, and in the idea that it can and will lead us toward a more peaceful, healthier world.