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Brodi Ashton: Keep it together 2021, don’t turn into a 2020

A look back at a crazy year and why there’s still reason for hope.

Brodi Ashton

Remember Jan. 1, 2020? We all had such high hopes. Sure, Australia was dealing with horrendous fires, and we passed along our condolences. Then there was a little talk of a virus in China, but that seemed so far away.

Well, just like Walter White in “Breaking Bad,” 2020 started out with good intentions, but quickly donned a black pork pie hat, demanded to be called “Heisenberg”, and blew up friends and family members. January and February seemed normal enough. In fact, I remember, after reading an article about COVID-19, saying to one of my co-workers, “Wow, are we all going to die?”

He was notoriously known for having no sense of humor. He said: “Maybe.”

I laughed at his response.

Then March came, and with it, the Virus, and then, the Lockdown. I remember those days. It seemed like a harmless social experiment. This is not to downplay the effects of the virus, but in those early days, it seemed like an abundance of caution played a determining role as to our social lives. At home, we said:

I’m reading every book, ever!

I’m learning about the world of big cats!

I’m not worried about where I’m going to get my next paycheck! Because this is temporary!

Then time passed, and the murder hornets arrived. And we said:

OK, 2020, I’ll admit you’ve got game. But I feel like “murder hornets” is not a “proportional response”, which is something our government considers very important. It’s raising the stakes between us a bit too soon.

My backyard hornets’ nests were destroyed by a brave, brave man. And then my house was surrounded by angry, angry hornets.

Oh, destroying nests makes the hornets mad? That’s silly. If it made them mad, there would be a catchphrase to go along with it. Like, “I’m as mad as a…” Um, nevermind.

Then the summer months hit, with their unnecessary police shootings, and we all started to address the year in soft, calming voices.

Hey, 2020. How you doin’? How about we put down the broken bottle. We can have a nice, quiet chat. I’m sure we can solve this like civilized grown-ups.

Then an entire city in the Middle East blew up in an epic explosion.

Me: 2020, I have to admit I may have brought a knife to a gunfight. But a city accidentally exploding is a little off topic. Is there justification?

2020: You send one of mine to the hospital? I send one of yours to the morgue!

(Line borrowed very liberally from the movie “The Untouchables”)

Then, 2020 gave us one of the most disputed elections in history. But it was OK because 2021 would usher in a new president, and we would get this all figured out.

I mean, I knew exactly what to expect. After all, I lived through the Bush/Gore debacle. I know what it feels like to wait.

2021 happened (yes it is appropriate at this point that a new year “happened” to something).

And just when I felt it was OK to place my bets on 2021, the storming of the U.S. Capitol took place.

I don’t know how to write about this, or how to interpret what the storming of the Capitol will mean in the future.

But, I can still stake my confidence in 2021. Without hope, what have we? And we are the country of hope (not murder hornets).

Brodi Ashton is a New York Times best-selling author who lives in the Salt Lake City area. She’s also an occasional columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune.

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