2020 will probably rank as the worst year of our lifetimes. As I think about the year gone by, there’s a lot that went wrong, especially the lives lost ,not to return again, driven by failures in leadership across the world. When faced with adversity, I often turn to my faith to shore up my resilience. A key tenet in Islam is to find gratitude to Allah even in the face of adversity. Hence, as I look forward to 2021, instead of being angry at all the things that could have been done right, I wanted to reflect on some of the silver linings instead.
Slowing down to find meaning in the ordinary
I was fortunate and privileged to be able to work from home during the lockdowns. Though stifling, these lockdowns forced me to slow down the pace of my life and enjoy the everyday moments much more deeply than I ever have — the family dinners, the daily walks, the masked smiles to the neighbors, the holidays. I didn’t need travel or a trip to the museum/mall to lift up my spirits, I had to find it within myself.
We can do a lot more to tackle racial injustice if we put our hearts and minds to it
It took a pandemic and the loss of innocent Black lives to make us realize how unfair our society is today. So many inventive efforts by corporations and individuals to support the Black Lives Matter movement came through. It shows that if we have the will, we can do a lot to create equity. It may not be perfect, but it will be better than what the status quo is today. We just need to keep at it.
Science and technology is essential for the survival of humanity
I don’t think I would have written this point at another time, but there’s so much hatred towards science and technology these days, that I wanted to write this down. The mRNA technology had trouble finding many takers in the past few years. We have the mRNA vaccines because some scientists kept pushing the boundaries of what’s possible through science despite the skepticism they faced.
We were able to stay connected and function because of the internet. My mother saw her newborn grandson on WhatsApp. My Berkeley neighborhood groups on FB helped me find groceries, testing sites and schooling information in times of uncertainty. I was able to work and help people stay connected because of tools like Zoom.
We are all connected in sickness and health
The pandemic has made me realize how connected we are to each other today. No problem is a problem of one country alone. The virus traveled freely across the world despite the walls erected across the borders. Similarly, the vaccines have been a product of innovation across the world. The mRNA vaccine was developed because a researcher in China uploaded the virus’s genome. Turkish immigrants in Germany, employed by an American company invented the Pfizer vaccine . A British-Swedish firm produced another that will be manufactured primarily in India. My hope is that this global connection helps us get out of our narrow views of patriotism and loyalty to the countries of birth/residency alone. Especially as we brace up for the fight for our planet’s future, we will need all hands on deck for that. We are citizens of the world now .