Griffin pritchard

T

ake a breath friends, we stand at the precipice of a new year. Those of you left standing have survived possibly the worst year on record. I’m sure the folks from Pompeii would disagree, but they are still a little singed from their run-in with an enraged and livid volcano.

I’m assuming one of the elders told it to “calm down” because they always works. 

Looking back on the year one has to wonder - is this what we needed? 

Did we need a reset? 

As a society, as a global community really, change is something that is constantly on the horizon. Sometimes it’s welcomed with open arms and others it’s ushered in with the sound and fury of a missile strike on a petroleum gas tank. 

The economist Milton Friedman said: “Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change.”

Given that what we are experiencing now - be it perceived as a political stunt, a conspiracy theory or an actual medical crisis depending on which train of thought you choose to align your brain waves with – is something unseen in lifetimes, what actual changes can we expect to be brought to the fore in the days following? 

Everyone automatically assumed that this was a political ploy to keep people from the polls in an election year and that it would mysteriously disappear in the days following that infamous day in November. 

But it didn’t. And, to that point, it looks like this pandemic is going to expand into 2021 despite the availability of a vaccine. 

Thanks to the BBC (British Broadcasting Channel, for those of you uncultured to foreign channels) I stumbled upon this little nugget: “Between 1349 and 1361 the Plague, ‘the Black Death, if we want to be all dramatic about it,’ knocked out about 70% of the European population.” 

I know; tragic, right? However, aside from thinning the overpopulated herd, it created opportunities by ending the 100-year war, creating job opportunities and ending the Feudal System. 

Now, the Feudal System is something I had to look up because it’s something that hasn’t entered into my realm of thought since I was in junior high at Alex City Middle. 

According to Dictionary.com the Feudal System is defined as a type of social and political system in which landholders provide land to tenants in exchange for their loyalty and service. 

Kind of sounds like the way some politicians/Baptist ministers view their audiences, to put it in more of a modern frame of understanding. 

Pay me and I shall be loyal to you. Vote for me and I shall be loyal to you until someone pays me more. Tithe to me and I shall buy this private jet to help me minister to the sinful bikini-wearing blondes in Barbados. 

The Spanish Flu is another example of bad things turning out good. Yes, it did snuff out the flames of nearly 50 million people toward the end of World War I, but in its wake grew a new understanding of epidemiology and how infectious diseases spread. In turn that created Departments of Public Health throughout the world as learned minds agreed that the “best defenses against pandemic spread was at a societal and not individual level.”

But that was then -- and this is now. I feel like that’s a line from a bad country song. 

Regardless - what will the world look like when this is all over and done with?

Just in the eight months that we’ve been under this restrictive order to mask and be socially aware of our surroundings, think about how much has changed.

Walmart has opened two additional checkout lines. That right there is huge in and of itself. People are more receptive to social distances which, unfortunately, seems a bit hellish if you are a close-talker. In that case, speak up and make your voice heard. Restaurants, while seemingly bearing the brunt of the social shutdown mandates, are finding new ways to cope by offering takeaways and outdoor dining, going so far as to socially space out their interiors to allow for indoor dining. 

For the longest time, one of the chief complaints about today’s society was the inability to create a work/life balance. Now that most folks are working from home that’s a sustainable goal as you can take time between your meetings to start the wash or do the dishes; or even just step out onto the deck with a whiskey and a cigar to clear your mind. 

Your employers have also learned that jobs once single-mindedly believed capable within the confines of an office building are best done at home in an environment where the employee can flourish because they are happy and surrounded by the things that make them that way … the animals and the kids and the proximity to good coffee and the snack table. 

And to others, 2021 will be a period of building back what was taken away from them in the fallout from the shutdown of 2020. To those people, I do hope you find your footing again and can build back greater than ever. 

As society moves into the new year and sheds the putrid skin of the past, what changes are you going to make within yourself to be better, stronger and emotionally resilient to the challenges that lay flush on the horizon? 

We’ve learned how to battle lockdown, forced family bonding, toilet paper shortages and a pandemic. We’ve learned new coping skills. And I think that as a society we are going to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us next, be it the Purge, Zombies or another wave of Hallmark Christmas Movies starting in February. 

The first starring Lori Laughlin, telling the story of how the Son of Santa visited her in prison. 

It’s that simple.