Ann McFeatters: Yes, there's hope in the air

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Finally, there are glimmers of … hope.

Yes, it has been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year. Many of us lost loved ones. Some of us lost good health. Some said goodbye to jobs and savings. Many lost their faith in democracy.

But still so many of us think there is so much good in so many fellow Earth dwellers that we can still smile and laugh and plan and learn and look forward to finding a path out of a dark period of despair. The pendulum has swung. Not all the way back, but it’s moving.

The system worked. The man with 6 million more votes won. The Supreme Court did not decide the victor. Spurious claims of fraud and conspiracy were disproved. Damage was done; it will be repaired.

Miraculously, thanks to scientists working together around the globe and around the clock, there are three potential vaccines on the horizon. That is certainly an unprecedented accomplishment in such a short time.

Mask wearing may become a universal recognition that an unseen virus is on the prowl killing the unsuspecting, not a boast of political or cultural belief. Perhaps, even, a tardy farewell to the idea ‘I am free not to wear a mask even if it kills or sickens you.’

There now will be official recognition that climate change, potentially more dangerous to the human race than the pandemic, must be a focus of worldwide attention, led, at last, by the United States. Saving the planet will be seen as a noble venture — saving lives, saving species, creating jobs.

The volatile stock market did not crash. It boomed after the election on the promise of stability and reason and experience and, well, hope.

Government should soon start functioning again, as those with experience and dedication and passion for justice and truth come out of lying low to do their jobs with vigor and, well, hope. Gone will be those who gutted the agencies they were charged with caretaking as they sought to prove their loyalty to the boss, not to the people they were supposed to help. Nepotism won’t live at the White House any more.

Diplomacy will be prized as a tool to bring people together. U.S. funding for health clinics around the globe will flow again. It will take a while, but America’s name may lose its connotation with greed, incompetence and callousness. America’s reputation for compassion and caring and helping others may start to be restored.

Legal immigrants will be welcomed. Foreign students will be greeted with respect and honor. “Dreamers” –brought to this country as children by adults – won’t automatically be deported to countries where they may not even speak the language. Children won’t be caged at the border or separated from their parents.

The justice system may live up to its name and won’t be unleashed periodically on political enemies. Voter suppression will be seen as a criminal offense. Pardons won’t be handed out for serious federal crimes as if they were mints on the Oval Office Resolute Desk.

The U.S. Department of Education might stop seeing as its mission aiding the for-profit Trump Universities of the world and gradually may be turned around to try to seek to help children and adults learn.

Racial divisions won’t be stoked to white heat at the top.

The Interior Department won’t be giving out as many public lands and oil and gas and mineral leases to robber barons as the fat cats have been used to getting.

Polluting the air and water may not be done with impunity.

Yes, it sounds like Utopia. In fact, a few years ago before red hats and the pandemic it was just the way things were supposed to work. There were serious problems and wars and inhumanity, but, in this country, there wasn’t total despair that the best days were over.

We all have learned a lot in 2020. It remains to be seen if we can say we learned enough and if the lessons will be retained.

Because 2021 will be tough in every way. More death. Sickness. More businesses shutting down. A sagging economy. Food shortages. Evictions. Our better angels taking too many days off. Demagoguery. A struggle to regain our international credibility. Seventy-three million people who think, wrongly, they were shafted.

But there’s something in the air (besides a killer virus). It’s a new determination to enjoy what we have, to appreciate the little things and respect the big things. To give and donate and decorate and bake and cook and volunteer and create and sing. And hope.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at amcfeatters@nationalpress.com.

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