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Hindsight is 2020

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

There is an old saying that hindsight is 20/20. If you aren’t familiar with the phrase, what it means is in looking back on events that have already passed you can see things you might have missed the first time around. The 20/20, of course, is a reference to the term for perfect eyesight, being able at a distance of 20 feet to see what you should see at 20 feet. 

I think that when we look back on 2020, we’re going to see a lot of things clearly that may not have been so clear to us as they were happening. Let’s face it, 2020 was a tumultuous year for all of us. Some folks have done better this year. I have friends who, in looking back, are already thankful for the extra time they were able to spend at home with their children and their families. While it may have been stressful at the time, when they weren’t clear about what was going to happen with their careers, or when they would be able to return to work – or if they would be able to return to work – in hindsight they are able to count their blessings. 

I expect a lot more of that will occur as things slowly return to normal with the development of COVID-19 vaccines. It may not return to normal right away, and some things may not return to normal until 2022 or later. But, eventually, we will eradicate or learn to live with this virus. (Some experts are already saying that rather than eradicating the virus completely it may be something, like seasonal flus and colds, that we just have to learn to live with. I suppose we’ll see.)

It wasn’t just COVID-19 that made 2020 an eventful year. 

Black Lives Matter protests erupted all over the nation as people took to the streets once again to confront the pernicious issue of racism and race related police brutality. Even Carter County was not immune to this phenomenon. While it hasn’t had any of the minority related shooting deaths that we have seen in larger cities and communities, folks intent on making a statement about their support for racial equality felt compelled to take a stand. Others who took a different message from those statements, and who worried about the impact of such demonstrations on their communities also took to the streets. Both groups were well within their first amendment rights to make the statements they made. But I believe that in years to come we will all look back on these events with a different view of how things played out, and how we wish we had handled them, no matter what stance we took on these issues. 

Politics in the year 2020 were another area where I think that the advantage of distance, reflection and hindsight will give us greater understanding of not only what was going on – often at breakneck speeds that were difficult to keep up with – but of how we reacted. Partisan rancor on both sides of the political spectrum seemed to be the flavor of the day, and I think that, with time, many will find that we have much more in common than the events of the past year led us to believe in the moment. 

It’s been a heck of a year, but here’s to hoping that, in hindsight, 2020 will have taught us all to be more thoughtful, more careful, and more humble in our assertions that we were always in the right. 

Jeremy D Wells can be reached at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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