I already am bracing myself for a challenging 2020. Among other things, there are the elections, worries about the economy, instability in the Middle East, North Korea, Russia, more climate change havoc, and, no doubt, at least two or three local issues that we don’t know about yet. It’s hard to be optimistic, but do we really have a choice? Accepting the conclusion that 2020 will “suck” simply isn’t an option.
So, what is realistic to hope for? Is there reason to look forward to the coming year, knowing that while there will be challenges, there will also be pleasant surprises? And if those surprises are realistic possibilities, there is reason to celebrate this new year as the potential start of something good.
What are some good things that might happen in 2020? My answers reflect my own little world. For example, because I often travel west, an accelerated completion of the nightmare Bay Bridge resurfacing project is on my list. If you crab for a living, or love them as much as most of us, you’re hoping for an abundant season. I bet you get it.
Here’s my list:
No major hurricanes or other storms this year. Although each year climate change increases the chances of our Eastern Shore way of life being changed forever, I’m hoping for the best. (I also hope the US and other world leaders step up their responses to this existential threat.)
A new President is elected. Sorry to inject politics here, but a lot of the bad that can happen in 2020 is because of what happened in 2016. We need a new President. Please!
A new sense of compassion for our global sisters and brothers. If I ever see another overcrowded border detention center, it will be too soon. I hope that the brutal scenes we saw in 2019, such as migrants drowning or children being separated from their parents, will not be repeated.
The return of political civility. This one really belongs on a list of hopes for 2021 since all indications for 2020 suggest things will get a lot uglier before they get better. But what if a few of the 2020 candidates or someone in Congress began to tear down the wall of partisanship that is destroying our democracy?
Fewer shootings. I was going to write “mass shootings,” but all gun violence is bad. I’m not holding my breath for a miracle, but one can hope that the horrors of 2019 are not repeated.
Progress on health care/prescription drugs. 2019 saw growing awareness of the fundamental outrage of prescription drugs costing thousands of dollars per month. This must stop.
Recognition that income inequality is everyone’s problem. Although I’m fortunate enough to consider myself financially secure, it is obvious to me that income inequality is undermining America. A growing number of Americans have no rational reason to support how our government and economy work. Put more simply: They work hard but will never, never get ahead. They will struggle to meet basic human needs while watching fellow citizens live lifestyles costing hundreds of times their annual incomes. In 2020, I hope there is acceptance of income inequality as a problem that needs to be resolved. I’m not ready to get on the Warren or Sanders bus, but something needs to be done.
New thinking on technology. More than a few pundits express grave concern about what Artificial Intelligence might ultimately mean to our future. Will the machines replace us as the masters of the planet? Will privacy disappear? Will I tell my Alexa what to do or vice versa? We do not yet have a handle on what is happening or, more importantly, what can or should be done to ensure a human-led future. I hope for a breakthrough in 2020.
Okay, those are some of the big ones. How about a few small ones, things like a few of the more idiotic TV shows going off the air? Here are a handful of additional hopes for 2020:
Good health for myself, my family, my friends, and, actually, everyone. The more you know about the challenges sick people face, the more you have no choice but to hope for good health for everyone.
More goldendoodles. I used to think a West Highland White terrier was a good dog. That may be true, but once you spend time with a goldendoodle you never go back. The more doodles on the planet, the better this planet will be. These dogs bring good cheer, peace, and wonderment to all who encounter them.
Good weather for the 2020 Waterfowl Festival in Easton. It happened this past year. The festival is always wonderful, but it is better if you are not wet and shivering.
A safe 737 Max returns to service. Why? Air travel is miserable enough. I don’t want it getting worse. More than 400 modern, fuel-efficient airplanes would help.
Real progress on the opioid crisis. Talbot has been purple for several years now, but the drug problem remains. Let’s hope for progress. This is a tough problem. I hope our leaders will make it the priority it needs to be and that a year from now we can all say, “there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
I’ll stop there. It’s okay if you add world peace, better education for all our youth, and that the Ravens win the Super Bowl. I did.
Happy New Year.
J.E. Dean of Oxford is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant. He is a former counsel to the House Committee on Education and Labor. For more than 30 years, he advised clients on federal education and social service policy.