The month of January has ushered in many things: a new year, longer days and renewed hope. Vaccines have begun being administered here in Manitoba, first to our front-line workers in health and social services and now to those living in long-term care homes. While we have a long way to go, the road to a safe re-opening of the province is starting to be laid down before us.
On a global scale, many of us watched with hopeful optimism as a peaceful transfer of power occurred south of the border. More than a matter of politics, the narrative of trying to unite a divided country, and of bringing freedom and equality to all spoke to millions around the world who tuned in to the Inauguration Ceremony. A standout to many was the poem of Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb, which spoke of acknowledging our mistakes all while we strive to fix them. (If you haven’t had the chance to watch her recite her work, please click here.)
As we move away from the physical dark of the shortest days of winter, and the metaphorical dark of the days when it seemed the pandemic would never end, sometimes it seems like the last leg of the journey is the hardest. We’re all impatient for the vaccine to roll out, for our health care system to become less strained, for life to go back to the way it used to be.
The painful removal of our normal routines gave way to a different pace of life, and for some, a realignment of our values. Many of us were forced to stay home and reflect on what we were missing out on and what we didn’t miss at all. We started to ask ourselves some big questions. How did I get to be so busy and do I want that again? Whose needs aren’t being met during this pandemic, and how can I help? What part do I play in making sure my community is safe and prosperous? What really matters to me, in the end?
I hope, as the days get longer and hope continues to grow in Manitoba and around the world, we remember that change can come slowly, or in an instant. A vaccine shot in an arm, an election, a changing of the seasons, a shifting of perspectives. While it has been a time of struggle and sorrow for so many, it has also perhaps been the catalyst we needed to stop and imagine a world that reflects what matters most to us.
The question becomes: do we want to go back to the way things used to be, or is it time to imagine a new way forward? On Inauguration Day, Amanda Gorman’s poem ended with the simply stated but powerful words, “there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.”