Thankfully coming to an end, 2020 relentlessly seemed to evoke the words “hope and hopeful” in conversations and in the media. We desperately wanted the viral terror to cease its deadly impact on our initially unprepared nation.
The “Hopeful” signs seen throughout Easton, thanks to Amy Haines, Richard Marks, and the Dock Street Foundation and other benefactors, symbolized the feeling of unity pervasive among so many of us cautiously optimistic about the future.
We all hoped for an accelerated discovery and production of vaccine. That has happened.
We hoped for restoration of sanity, decency and leadership at the White House. That hopefully will happen on Jan. 20, 2021 when Joe Biden becomes the 46th U.S. president.
We hoped that political dysfunction and polarization would be modulated, and that compromise and conciliation might be reinstated in the public arena. That’s now possible, though tortuous.
We hoped that economic and racial inequality would become priorities for our national leadership. We can hope that racial tensions stoked by our irresponsible president will diminish under the Biden Administration. The alternative would be undesirable.
We hoped for renewal of trust in, and respect for the United States by foreign nations disillusioned and disappointed by our country’s erratic and chaotic behavior on the world stage. That must happen.
We hoped for a rebirth of civility in communities throughout our precious union, where disagreement might be expressed in non-confrontational ways. Another must-do.
When 2021 arrives in four days, I think (and hope) that words like freedom, liberation and normalcy will become coins of the literary realm. We will segue from ravenous hope to a compassionate reality.
Freedom could be the watchword for the upcoming new year. It almost seems a perfect aspiration, one that crosses all divisions, actual and perceived, in our country.
Freedom from an insidious disease that has caused nearly 335,000 deaths in our nervous nation.
Freedom and liberation from onerous restrictions on our lives and consequent separation from our families and friends—and debilitating loneliness on the part of older, and younger people alike left so sadly alone by death of a spouse and Covid-caused barriers to family warmth and solace.
Freedom from fear of contracting Covid despite taking constant and annoying precautions.
Freedom from denial and dishonesty peddled daily by a president unable and unwilling to acknowledge a crippling pandemic and its fatal impact.
Freedom to talk face-to-face without a mask with your neighbors, your children, merchants, medical professionals, clergy—and all the people we know and wish we knew.
Freedom to stop hoping for normalcy and actually enjoy it. Some wonder, justifiably, whether normalcy as we knew it prior to March 2020 will ever return. It seems unlikely.
Working from home for white-collar workers may become a permanent part of the economic landscape, particularly if productivity has remained the same, or even improved. Part of at-home work included, of course, the ubiquitous zoom communication.
As all of us learned in the zoom world, we all benefited from not dressing up and driving to meetings. More people could participate from throughout the country. Vehicular pollution decreased. We suffered, however, from a lack of human contact and typical rapport.
A Covid-free world raises many questions:
Will people resume traveling? Will they resume attending large gatherings, be they entertainment or sports venues, or family weddings and reunions?
How quickly will Americans, starved of human contact for 10 months, do as they did prior to the pandemic? Will there be an understandable reluctance to gather in groups?
We have lived with a steady diet of hope and expectation. Once vaccinations are completed, maybe this summer—and they are proven safe and effective—freedom to live normally will replace fervent hope with comfortable human routines.
To Spy readers, I wish you and your families a new year that brings unrestrained happiness and an end to disabling isolation. Freedom is an invaluable asset. We’ve all learned that freedom from anxiety is a natural desire stifled for the past 10 months.
Maybe we’ll shake hands again and hug loved ones. Simple pleasures may become commonplace again.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.