We have all been tested this year in more ways than we could’ve imagined.
The good news is that our COVID test came back positive.
Came back positive for caring, positive for resilience, positive for love of country, positive for community, positive for neighborliness, and positive for the American way.
Don’t let news products fool you. They are paid to generate clicks by telling you everything is getting worse. That’s what gets more readers.
But it’s really not true.
Pandemics happen, though they happen with less frequency. And they are almost always followed by civil unrest.
For example during the last pandemic, the riots that broke out killed hundreds of US citizens in 1919, in addition to 0.5% of the country’s population.
If we hadn’t improved, we would’ve seen millions dead from coronavirus, and thousands killed in the streets. But we have improved.
We still have real problems that urgently need real solutions. There’s no denying that.
But in 2020 we handled our country’s problems more peacefully and more constructively than we ever have before in our history.
Look, there’s a different way to go about this. The Chinese solution, for example, was to, literally, weld people into their apartments. Not ‘lock the door and don’t come out’, but get an electric arc welder and seal the front door shut.
And you know, it probably worked to reduce overall COVID fatalities in China. And so does their solution to democracy’s messy debates — arrest everyone who doesn’t agree with the Communist Party.
But the cure is worse than the illness, and our way is better.
Whatever your disagreements with the specifics of how we handled the crises of 2020, you have to admit we’ve done much better than they could do in the time of our great-grandparents. And that’s progress.
Yes, we were tested by COVID, and we passed this test with flying colors.
In looking back on this year, I’d like to share my own journey as told through this newsletter…
In retrospect, weren’t we concerned with foolish things in February? I was.
I started the year off with “Boss swapping is the hot new trend for 2020”, a time when the unemployment rate had hit a 50-year low, and the good times seemed to last forever.
I do read most of your replies to this newsletter, and I remember being struck by how many didn’t think COVID was a real problem yet at the end of March. With hindsight, the numbers in New York City tell us why — it was much worse here than anywhere else at that point. There’s no doubt our governor and Mayor botched it.
It was also in early March that I was profiled in The Washington Post with Ladders’ then-crazy idea to work-from-home in case coronavirus got bad: “This New York CEO put his company in a simulated coronavirus lockdown”
My three-year-old asked “Is outside fixed yet?”, which turned out to be my most memorable subject line of the year. So many of you have commented how these words “out of the mouth of babes” resonated.
With “Bad news, good news” I tried to put a happy face on the horrific unemployment rate, which hit 8.4% among the college-educated in May, and then used Memorial Day to share my “Gratitude” for our armed forces and our health forces. I wrote:
“I can’t imagine any word to adequately describe that person who ties their shoes and stands up straight and walks out their front door and into a hospital today to do their job. I can’t imagine any word other than hero.
It’s probably the bravest thing we’ll see in our lifetimes.”
That’s still true.
By June, it looked like we were in it for the long haul, and I recommended that you “Be prepared.”
And, then, for my most controversial newsletter of the year, I turned the microphone over to Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Kaleth O. Wright: “Who am I? I am a Black man who happens to be the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.”
His words remain inspiring: “I am committed to making this better.” I’m still sad it was controversial with many of my Readers.
As the summer went along, I covered “Remote age discrimination,” and gave you “27 questions you must ask in post-COVID interviews.” “Is Zoom breaking my career?” gave specific tips for improving your Zoom presence.
The fall felt like it was time to get back to work, and I wrote often about our new feature Apply4Me, where our team fills out the job applications for you.
And I wrapped it up with “Humankind had its greatest year ever in 2020”, an accurate depiction of how humanity’s best features shined through in this dark year.
Thanks for reading with me all year, and here’s to a much, much better 2021 for all of us.