In the early days of 2020 — at a time when the only Coronas I’d heard of were the name of a beer and my hometown — I sent out an email to friends with some of my “visions” for 2020. Since none of them came to pass in 2020, I thought I’d give it another go in 2021.
Before I do, here’s what happened the other night in Redlands that perhaps sheds some light on one reason why we may be in trouble today.
My wife had come to pick me up after I’d been shopping (I had run there). When she stopped on a quiet side street for just a moment so I could step in, the driver behind us, apparently outraged by this egregious delay, blasted their horn, then did it again as we headed away.
So, yes, a minor incident perhaps, but it all adds up in a country where people have been shot for simply asking someone to wear a mask. Instead of just complaining, however, here are some concrete suggestions that could be begun in 2021 — several doable — along with a few from my own personal wish list.
In a country where surveys show that more people believe in angels than human-caused global warming, we continue to teach the importance of science and face the reality of both environmental destruction and the existence of viruses. In 2020, that denial of reality took a terrible toll on Americans. Let’s embrace reason.
Amid the ongoing pandemic, more people finally wake up and realize that every American needs access to health care. Here’s a startling statistic to consider: Since the virus began, the number of people who’ve lost their health insurance in England is zero. In France: zero. In Germany: zero. In Australia: zero. In the United States? Fourteen million. Of course it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Everyone in the world also deserves health care.
After surviving four long, painful years of Betsy DeVos — Trump’s totally clueless and incompetent Secretary of Education — public schools in this country are transformed almost overnight when a law is passed that requires all public officials to send their children to public schools.
As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, it seems like every time I run through Redlands I have an encounter with a homeless, mentally ill person. Our society needs to start building facilities with beds for all homeless people and every one of them is assigned trained counselors to determine why they are homeless and what can be done about it.
President Biden revives a modern-day version of FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps to employ millions of the unemployed in the millions of hours needed for tasks the private sector has failed to do, such as weeding vacant lots, picking up the tons of trash scattered everywhere; painting fences and repairing bridges. There is no reason for anyone to be unemployed in this country.
For the people who are employed now doing the jobs that keep us all going — from those changing bandages to those changing tires — not just a long-delayed raise in the minimum wage, but the enactment of “livable wages,” so those working their tails off week in and week out, make enough money to actually live on.
And, as a follow-up to that incident mentioned above, a law is passed requiring all drivers at red lights to wait at least 2.8 seconds before they’re allowed to honk at the driver ahead of them when the light turns green.
Finally, everyone in the world decides to join the same religion, which has a single, simple and sensible three-word credo: love your neighbor.
So, here’s hoping for a better 2021. As the poet Emily Dickinson once wrote: “Hope is the thing with feathers.”
Phill Courtney has taught English at several public high schools and was twice a candidate for Congress with the Green party. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org