“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
They say that hard times bring out the worst in all of us, and that can definitely be true, but the opposite can also be true. Because hard times push us to our limits, they can just as easily humble us and make us turn outward, away from ourselves, to see the needs of others.
I’ve seen this time and again this year, the dreadful 2020. When quarantine hit, there were those who stampeded and hoarded and pushed and shoved, but there were also those who shared and cared and served and loved. Big name businesses reached out to their customers with assurances of safety and comfort, and bent over backward into their bank accounts to ensure the well-being of their employees. Internet companies scrambled to meet the sudden demands for bandwidth, and donated services to those in financial straits.
When political and social strife slammed us mid-year, and the powers-that-be looked to be failing us, well-known personalities stepped up to encourage communication and understanding, and again big name companies responded to the need with thoughtful solutions and commitments to positive change.
Through the whole year of craziness, we’ve seen extremes on social media, with more hate and vitriol and inhumanity splashing itself all over than ever before—but also more good humor and solidarity and straight up love that has eased tensions and helped the common person get through the most hellish days.
While social media deserves much of its bad rap, I’ve realized that it has also played a huge part in holding us all together as a global family through this year. Every meme that has passed from one side of the world to the other, that has given us a break from our worries, or has translated our fears into something humorous, is a reinforcement of our bond as humans. Every post that ignores the problem of the day to point out a positive light is like a pin that grounds us to our humanity. It shows a restraint that can only come from compassion.
So if 2020 is the craziest year, it might also be the year we all got stronger—cared more, tried harder, loved deeper, and let go of ourselves—the year we made the most of the time we have.