It has become incredibly worn to discuss how bad 2020 was for most of us, and I certainly don’t need to explain how or why it was a difficult year. It’s understandable, then, that the new year has been greeted with a sigh of relief, that finally we’re past all that and we can get back to normal.
This is what worries me about 2021, our collective desire to “get back to normal”. As Pope Francis explained in his recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, the crises that this year provided did not cause the horrible flaws in our world, national, and local systems, they merely exposed them. Our culture of greed and exploitation, of viewing human lives as disposable, inconvenient, or not worth taking effort to protect, will not be solved by a mere change of the calendar year. With this attitude, we become like Chesterton’s caricature of the progressive, the man who prefers Wednesday to Monday simply because it occurs later. The passage of time, by itself, I’ll never and can never fix the deep flaws in our country and world.