Van Beek: The trauma of 2020 is now the panic of 2021 |

Van Beek: The trauma of 2020 is now the panic of 2021

The past 10+ months have been a time of intense anticipation, accompanied by mounting stress. We began 2020 with the usual New Year’s resolutions, soon forgotten as the first monthly gym payment became due, and in this area, waxing skis, tuning up snowmobiles, and enjoying our apres-ski way of life.

However, as spring approached, we not only received the usual dump of late ski season snow, but with it came a virus, which quickly expanded into a pandemic. We were asked to stop everything and secure ourselves at home, as the nation examined the threat and attempted to mitigate its effect.

What began as a two-week shutdown grew into months of fear and uncertainty. At first, it was like an unscheduled stay-cation with the family … days of games and movies, with home BBQs, and playing with fun apps like Zoom. But, by the third month, the novelty had worn off and some serious issues began developing.

Answers about the virus were inconclusive. Conflicting and changing information made things even more confusing. Numbers that we didn’t fully comprehend were being thrown around, and they were scary. Meanwhile, services remained limited, businesses closed, children were missing school and the fun of online learning was wearing off, grandparents were becoming frightened as they remained detached from family in nursing homes, and things began falling apart.

The combination of fear of death from of a mysterious virus, coupled with family finances dwindling, plus the loss of freedoms normally taken for granted, and no visible escape valve, created the perfect storm for chaos.

Then something else happened. A horrific incident in Minneapolis. It sparked riots across the country, at the unbelievable injustice of the act. People began questioning authority and concern mounted at how easily it can be abused by those who should never have been put in a position of power to begin with.

That questioning about the abuse of power, particularly in minority communities, spread to other areas, and found its way to government agencies. Restrictions regarding the virus came into question as the measures seemed to have little effect, and people began questioning whether an abuse of power was also being exercised by certain government officials.

That’s when the virus became political. Everywhere you went, people were not simply discussing the issue, but actively arguing about whether one party or the other was trying to kill its citizens via the latest deadly weapon, the coronavirus. It was causing severe breaks among family and friends.

In addition, more conflict arose as people, having been shutdown for over half a year, were beginning to see their hopes and dreams vanishing. Lifelong savings were disappearing. Family businesses were unable to remain open, and bills were not getting paid.

For the first time in many people’s lives, they were uncertain of where their next meal was coming from. It was fall and children, usually excited about a new school year, were at home, exhibiting signs of depression. Major family events were unable to be celebrated, seniors felt alone as their loved ones were unable to visit. Mental health issues were developing, where there were previously none. Drug abuse, violence, and suicides were increasing. People were scared and tensions were mounting.

Inequalities were being highlighted and the loss of various freedoms were becoming a major concern. Elected officials did not seem to have answers, yet all were quick to blame the other party. Where facts were unavailable, imagination filled in and what it was creating, looked dismal.

People were angry, feeling helpless and alone. These were new sentiments for us, as we are a nation of optimism, innovation, and unity. Yet, it seemed that nothing attempted resulted in solving these growing concerns.

When the November election was over, people were relieved that finally the political bickering would end … but oh, no. Then 2020 finally came to a close, filling everyone with anticipation of a new year filled with hope and new beginnings … but oh, no.

Now, here we are, mid-January, and insanity has finally hit its peak. We have entered new dimensions of crazy. And, don’t think that it’s limited to just “the other side”, no, we have all hit the wall and bounced back with less than the optimal number of working brain cells. Blue and red are tied for first place in the contest of the absurd.

The saddest part is that our normally close, compassionate, and accepting community, is falling apart. We all say that it must be fixed, yet each considers it to be the other “guy’s” fault, so clearly there is nothing they can do. Wrong.

Stop engaging in the insanity, period. There was a time when we could each agree to disagree. No one considered it to be the end of civilization, it was merely each side having a different approach to an issue. We become passionate about a particular solution, so sure that it will solve everything, but sometimes there are unforeseen circumstances that occur and our brilliant idea fails … it happens to everyone.

However, regardless of which solution emerged and how it turned out, we still ended up fine. If we didn’t like the previous result, we’d vote in a different one. Regardless of temporary setbacks, we always survived and sometimes even flourished.

The world did not end in 2017 and it will not end in 2021. We must trust in our system of checks and balances, and even though one party may have a dominant position for a period of time, it is only temporary, as we always like to change things up … it’s the American way.

Stay engaged, be compassionate, remain civil … that’s who we are.

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