Commentary: Dare to believe in the promise of 2021

Amir Mott
Deputy director
88th Civil Engineer Group

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Amir Mott Deputy director 88th Civil Engineer Group

Looking back at the year with double 20s has different meanings for all of us. For many, what started out as a year to focus on new or renewed ambitious resolutions quickly became one for the record books that won’t be soon forgotten.

However, in what way will we remember it?

COVID-19, that dreaded acronym we tire of hearing, changed how we interact with each other. From elbow greetings and mask-muffled conversations to 6-foot physical distancing and unfortunate losses, we reluctantly learned how to interrelate with each other in previously unfamiliar ways. While some wholeheartedly welcomed the opportunity to telework, others loathed what they considered home confinement.

2020 brought to the forefront raw emotions regarding diversity, inclusion and social unrest, realities stemming from the death of blacks at the hand of white police officers.

During the year, sports lost some if its appeal, starting with last January’s death of Kobe Bryant, a basketball icon. Games were played in empty stadiums, not to mention poorly synchronized piped-in crowd noise in an attempt to give diehards a sense of spectator familiarity.

To round out the year, it’s impossible not to mention November’s presidential election and the muted gatherings on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Wow – what a year!

The thread that seemed to be weaved throughout each of these events was a force determined to pull people apart rather than tie us closer together. Remarkably, however, we learned a new – or perhaps remembered – fundamental nature call that when forced apart, we fight harder to build the necessary connective tissue to survive and stay connected.

As in exercising, the microfiber tears from stressed muscles found a way to rebound and become even stronger. We came to appreciate why we need and rely on each other.

This is not to say everything and everyone are in perfect harmony, but I dare believe that positive strides have been made and without the struggles of 2020, our bonds may have remained stagnate. These changes, these opportunities for leadership to emerge, for innovations to be developed, for latent wounds to be acknowledged and addressed are and were necessary in some respects.

As I look contemplatively over my shoulder at 2020, I also excitedly look forward to 2021, even with its challenges and hurdles awaiting. More importantly, I’m most appreciative of the diverse talents, opinions, and even sometimes strained – as well as easygoing – comraderies of peers, mentors, mentees, family and friends that travel with me into all the change we will face head-on together.

Each year being a steppingstone into the next and reason to improve, I quote Jean-Paul Sartre: “Life begins on the other side of despair.”

So despite our trials of 2020, this hope, this promise, is what I lean headlong into with you, this magnificent thing called life – welcome 2021!

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