COVID-wise, I think we're finally turning the corner, at least with the strand we've been suffering under since last March. (Godspeed, Brits and everyone living Brit-adjacent lives...) We're not there yet, but I think we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I may be able to see a movie in person again one of these days.
(Don't tell Dr. Faucci, but I actually did when I was down south last week. Goodness, how I miss them.0
Not that it at all is worth the massive suffering, both in terms of death and illness and also economic suffering, but I think the prolonged lockdown made a lot of people slow down and re-evaluate their life choices (or lack of same). And I think that wiped away a lot of illusions about how some of the common assumptions we have for how life has to be is really the best approach, or even equally good for everyone. I've seen a lot of my male friends say they're suddenly much less blind to what their wives have to deal with regarding balancing childcare and domestic expectations and a professional life... just because they saw them doing it across the table from them. Or to take another example, as much a nightmare as zoom-school is, I think it has a lot of families asking if the assembly-line model of American schooling is really the best approach and what more customizable or individualized schooling might look like. And just because we've all been going through hard times together, I think there's a lot more awareness of how precarious life is for the American poor, how hard they work and how depenedent they are, but not because they're bad people. Just because society isn't looking out for them.
Not suggesting everyone is reached, by a long shot. But I think a lot of the reachables, good-hearted and fair-minded people who through inertia or just general business are a bit blinded to these needs, have been much more reached this last year than they usually are; and I see a lot of these kinds of people looking for creative solutions. At least they're admitting there's a problem. This makes me optimistic for 2021.
Politically, Biden isn't everything I'd hope for, but he's so far better than the White House's current occupant. He is someone I see people representing my interests being able to work with. And he plays by the usual rules, which has all kinds of normal problems and biases but is worlds better than the current exercise in raw power and avarice and shamelessness. So while there's doubtless loads of work to do, as an American I'm finally seeing a landscape where we can at least start doing that work.
Poor people are still poor- arguably poorer- but we're also recognizing instacart delivery-men and Walmart cashiers as essential workers. We're also much more aware of how interconnected we all are. Can you imagine that before 2020? And obviously that's a cheap way to get out of actually protecting them, but rhetoric matters.
As do stories. I think like a lot of people are more aware of how important stories are, not because we need to be entertained but because it's so deeply human. I'm thinking about how American society talks about humanities and other story-driven kinds of study as "less" than scientific or career-oriented one; well, we were all touchstarved and depressed and facing a kind of angst in the true sense of the word, and so many of us turned to our stories. I think at a deep level, a lot of people are more reminded of why that's so important to us.
I'd love to hear what makes you optimistic for 2021 too, if you have anything you'd like to add.