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Robert Kirby: What did we learn from this year of the Great Pandemic?

Hopefully, we’ve realized the value of being prepared and an appreciation for those things that matter most in life.

Robert Kirby

Two more days and we’ll be finished with 2020. The big question is: Will it be finished with us?

My guess is that we still have a long way to go. If history has proved anything, it’s that horrible stuff doesn’t pay attention to timetables.

World War II, the Great Depression, the bubonic plague and disco are excellent examples of rough times having their own schedules. None of them ended just because a year did.

Note: I’m not sure if disco killed anyone or just made us wish we were dead.

The point is that 2020, like 9/11 or December 7th, forever will be a hallmark in history. Years from now, people might be asking one another questions like, “Where were you during COVID?”

Assuming I can still communicate beyond a drool, my great-grandchildren might ask me what it was like during the “olden” days of the great sickness.

Them • “Papa, what did you do during the Great Pandemic?”

Me • “Well, I fortified the house and shot at zombies. Killed a lot of them right on that porch over there. Including a couple with a hammer.”

Wife • “Robert!”

Me • “Fine. I just stayed home, watched TV, and did whatever Grammy said.”

If in the future I’m able to remember anything at all about 2020, it’s that my father died from COVID-19, and that it was nearly impossible to visit Mom in the assisted living center where she lived. I saw almost nothing of my extended family.

But it’s not about what COVID has done to us (so far) but rather what we’ve learned from it. Preparation comes immediately to mind.

The new year will present continued challenges with quarantining, masking and hoarding. We will continue to look for new ways to meet the challenges in education, employment, etc.

We’ll probably still be dealing with anti-maskers, who claim it’s all a government conspiracy or hoax.

Another note: I find it interesting how many of these people firmly believe in a religion (pick one) based on less hard evidence than that provided about the coronavirus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But that’s just me. Irony is one of the best learning tools humans have. You just need to be paying attention for it to be of any real use.

Which brings us to next year, now a mere two days away. Nothing is going to happen overnight.

President Donald Trump will still be president (for a couple of more weeks), the coronavirus will still be killing people, and store shelves will yet be as predictable as slot machines.

If any good is to come out of 2020, it won’t be from reflecting on what we’ve lost, but rather from what we should have learned.

A few things come to a dull mind. Being prepared is the most important one. Most male Utahns grew up with that motto stamped on their brains by the Boy Scouts. But we immediately forgot about it. Were we prepared? Not really.

Family. You find out a lot about your family and other loved ones when the dung hits the fan.

Humility. Generosity. Hope. Love. Loyalty. It’s sad how often we have to be reminded of the importance of these qualities by getting flogged with terrible things.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.

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