This is the year I realized the power of "No." I don't have to be everything to everyone. I can be me. And, that's enough. I believe "no" is the new activism for Black women.
Diane M Manuel, PhD from California
Title: Surviving COVID
Tell nurses "You may rest."
Tell teachers "You matter."
Tell Door Dashers "You are the best."
Tell the unemployed "Do not shatter."
Tell everyone "Be safe."
Tell priests "Pray strong."
Ask the grave digger “Might you sing
my loved one their favorite song?"
Thank the sun for dawning.
Thank the morning dew for good health.
Thank the ease of yawning
while admiring birds
fly on to something else.
Count the lives you have lived.
Count the memories you have saved.
Count the movies you have enjoyed
with Chris Farley and David Spade.
Wherever you are
embrace that present power
compelling a new way.
Embrace this very hour
for the good it can be made.
Nyah Vanterpool from South Dakota
This is the year…the world changed forever.
With the celebration on July 4, 2021, of our nation's 245 years, it's become apparent how much we've lost during 2020 to 2021. Freedoms once taken for granted were taken away, a way of life that celebrated life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness seeming a notion of a long lost era as the year wore on and on and on. We've lost lives and livelihoods. The independent American spirit became squashed beneath new and ever-changing rules and regulations. Stay home! Wear your mask (two to three even better)! Keep your kids home from school and away from friends!
Had we not been blindsided, we could have thought of it as an abundant opportunity. If we could only have predicted that this isolation would last over a year, we could have engaged an army of grandparents to teach neighborhood kids about life's lessons out of garages across the land. Parents could have gathered children at the end of the cul-de-sac (appropriately distanced of course) to teach lessons on science, math, reading, whatever subject a parent or friend would be proficient in. Art and music programs could have been taught in front yards. We have many talented and educated people right in our own neighborhoods.
We've also gained great insight and knowledge. With the kids out of school and parents doing their best to teach at makeshift classrooms, we tried to fit homework, Zoom and our own working situations into the confines of modest American homes. What our kids had actually been learning in school hit the kitchen table with an awakening, loud thump. You know something is wrong when the school demands you sign an agreement not to participate in Zoom classes, not even to watch.
Underlying that unseen creature we were hiding from at home, behind our masks and hand sanitizer lurked creatures much more virulent and dangerous than the virus itself. We've been manipulated, lied to and commanded to abandon life as usual, quite possibly forever. The very definition of liberty is being stripped from us, from the way and what we prefer our children be taught about sensitive subjects, patriotism, and love for country and fellow man to communication with friends and colleagues via social media platforms where, if we don't choose our words carefully, we run the risk of being cancelled. The word "opinion" has become erroneously one-sided. Anyone read Nineteen-Eighty Four recently?
We cannot stand as a country divided. All men are created equal and never in the history of the earth has there been a time and a place with more opportunity for advancement and enlightenment than in the United States of America. It is our history that makes us unique amongst countries, that made us the freest and most powerful country in the world in just 245 years. We are the most generous of people. When a disaster hits a foreign land, we are the first to offer assistance. We the people donate charitably to causes around the world. We have dutifully delved out our taxes, trusting that our hard-earned dollars would be put to good use. The flag we once flew proudly around the land has become a symbol of oppression, its very sight upsetting to some individuals who no longer identify as Americans but as hyphenated tribal groups and a litany of abbreviations.
If we do not come together as one people, and soon, We the People will cease to exist as a free nation founded under Liberty and Justice for All.
G. L. Lawson from California
This is the year
"heal" is an active verb
The year we acknowledge
what was behind the curtain all along
This is the year
we reach out and hold tight
and remember that some days we won't be able to talk about it
but after we rest we will rise to the challenge.
Shannon McMaster from Ohio
This is the year
you regrew in my chest after I
pulled you out from the root.
Instead of planting
a garden in your place,
I felt that vine slither in again and wrap
But this time I could not pull you out.
I weeded and watered and fertilized you until
I felt your roots become my lungs
and your leaves become my ribs
and I cowered in fear of everything.
I cowered in fear of even breathing.
For over a year you grew but I have a plan
to finally defeat you:
it involves a little needle
and barely a moment of pain
and then I will be able to cultivate
the vegetable garden my soul deserves.
Olivia from Ohio
This past year has been full of darkness with the world shutting down and coming to a halt and so many examples of hate. Yet, there has been so many examples of light her in the darkness..those who light up the night. For each of them, I am grateful and seek to be the same for others.
Hyepin Im from California
This year has been odd. I can't really think of another appropriate word. A few days before the pandemic shut down the world, I had 'voluntarily' retired from a more than 30 year job with a famous healthcare institution. In fact I was one of the last people to have any elective procedure on March 10, 2020.
Even though I had a good pension, I knew that my early retirement wouldn't suffice to allow me to continue living the same way.
But then came the pandemic and instead of me being home alone moping for what had happened to me, everyone was home and we were able to spend quality family time together.
My neighborhood found ways to continue human interaction and comfort having each other to connect with. We had 'wine nights' in the cul-d sac. When the social injustices happened, we discussed all the ramifications. We have a diverse group of neighbors and even some international people who had come out to visit from India and couldn't get home. Together we worked to support each other as well as Black Lives Matter and the Armenian Genocide.
I now have some bittersweet feelings as we come out of the pandemic. I miss just hanging out with my wonderful neighbors.
Moving forward after the pandemic, my hope is that the relationships cultivated during the past year continue and grow. Lets all keep the warm feelings we had during this difficult time and learn more ways to love your neighbors!
Debby Weissman from California