“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.”
By Alex P. Vidal
INSTEAD of cursing the year 2020 as what many people do because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, let’s do the opposite: bid farewell to 2020 by saying thank you and counting our blessings.
It’s more than steering clear of cursing the darkness by lightning a candle.
It’s about faith in the future and understanding life backward and living it forward.
It’s a lot better to embrace optimism and positivism as we enter a new year than to languish in elegy and bitterness, and retain the bad memory of the passing year.
The source of our resiliency and vitality for the coming year may be the answer to what has brought us untold sorrow and tremendous sadness in the expiring year.
In the first place, it’s a big blessing that before 2020 expired, medical scientists were able to produce the vaccines that will finally expunge the nightmarish COVID-19 from our life hopefully in 2021.
It’s a blessing that most of us are still alive even if some of our loved ones and friends didn’t make it.
Hundreds of thousands of people may have perished in the pandemic, but millions will certainly be saved in 2021 and the years thereafter when the vaccines have fully marshaled their might and dominance against the coronavirus in the four corners of the globe.
In many areas in life, we definitely have many reasons to remain hopeful and efficacious if we put to the sleeping room the 2020 and look forward for the brighter 2021.
All we need is a positive outlook, faith, solid character.
Thank you, 2020; thank you, America.
We are thankful that during the pandemic, which started its horrific and most disquieting mayhem in March, we were living in the United States, arguably the “safest” place on earth despite topping the list in the number of cases and death worldwide (as of December 29, 2020 there are 19.4 million cases and 336,000 deaths in the United States).
“Safe” means the living or those who have not been infected, are still being well taken care of economically, especially if they lose their jobs or need immediate medical attention.
We sympathize with our brothers and sisters, on the other hand, especially in the Third World, whose governments can’t offer sufficient help for their embattled citizens.
To compound their woes, most of these governments are led by corrupt, incompetent and despotic rulers, a situation that has added insult to their misery.
While the pandemic is raging in America, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on December 29 that some Americans will begin receiving $600 stimulus checks from the federal government as soon as this week, or two days after President Donald Trump signed into law a $900 billion stimulus package, which included the direct payments.
The United States remains to be magnitudes better than most countries in the world and has always had a secure spot in the world's top ten standards of living.
Aside from the protection it gives to the people during the calamity, war and pandemic, the freedoms allowed and the opportunities given in the United States are unmatched by many other places, generally speaking.
While thrashing the planet, writer Sarah Van Gelder once cautioned we've been taught that economic growth and buying more stuff will make us happy for decades.
“The good news is, there’s a better kind of happy: It starts with meaningful work, loving relationships, and a thriving natural world,” Gelder stressed.
Sustainable happiness, she said, is built on a healthy natural world and a vibrant and fair society.
It is a form of happiness that endures, through good and bad times, because it starts with the fundamental requirements and aspirations of being human, she explained.
“You can’t obtain it with a quick fix; sustainable happiness cannot be achieved at the expense of others,” Gelder explained.
She said the good news is that sustainable happiness is achievable, it could be available to everyone, and it doesn’t have to cost the planet. It begins by assuring that everyone can obtain a basic level of material security. But beyond that, more stuff isn’t the key to happiness.
“It turns out that we don’t need to use up and wear out the planet in a mad rush to produce the stuff that is supposed to make us happy. We don’t need people working in sweatshop conditions to produce cheap stuff to feed an endless appetite for possessions,” she added.
We don’t even need economic growth, although some types of growth do help.
The research reportedly shows that sustainable happiness comes from other sources.
“We need loving relationships, thriving natural and human communities, opportunities for meaningful work, and a few simple practices, like gratitude. With that definition of sustainable happiness, we really can have it all,” Gelder concluded.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)