Looking At 2021

More questions than answers as the new year starts

By David Zurfluh

As bad as the unknowns were last year, 2021 may provide us with even more questions than answers.

We just might be at a pivotal time not only in American, but human history, as well.  What started off as a little, invisible virus with flu-like symptoms became a deadly global pandemic that no one and no government was prepared to treat or handle. How we dealt with it from a health perspective will be debated for years to come, but how it changed our governing practices and cultural norms may have deepened divisions among American subsets.

One thing I’ve been pondering lately is that life before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is becoming a distant memory and is something to which we might not return.

Below are things that come to my mind when thinking about 2021. I broke them into two categories: Known Things and Unanswered Questions.

Known Things

  • Change is coming.
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America leadership will change.
  • Video conferencing is here to stay.
  • Handwashing, social distancing and personal protective equipment will still be a protocol in work, school and home life.
  • New social customs are coming.
  • Work and home life will change.
  • 2021 will be defined one week at a time.

Unanswered Questions

  • What will Department of Veterans Affairs health care look like?
  • What will social norms be like in the future?
  • What will school look like?
  • What will entertainment look like?
  • What will shopping look like?
  • What will home and work life look like?

Many of you have heard the old saying that change is inevitable, and in 2021, that rings louder than ever in our ears. Life as we knew it before COVID-19 has changed forever, and COVID-19 has changed our relationships, I suspect, with friends and loved ones forever, too.

Some routines will come back, but others have been permanently lost — just like some of our favorite restaurants. Some relationships with friends and loved ones will return, some will not. Vaccines will help regain some of our past lives, but our psyches may never fully recover.

However, despite all the unknowns, two things are certain in 2021 — it won’t be boring, and change will be normal over the first few months of the year.

We’ll all have to live by the words from my favorite character, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Highway, played by Clint Eastwood in the 1986 movie Heartbreak Ridge, in that we’ll all have to “improvise, adapt and overcome” until a path to our new future becomes clear and ready to travel.  

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