“I had no reason to be over-optimistic. But somehow, when you smile, I can brave bad weather.”
This being Takoma Park, I’m not sure I need to cite the source, but that’s from The Who’s Tommy. I had it on cassette and wore it out driving around in high school. I knew every note, every drum beat, every French horn rip. I recently discovered I had been wildly misinterpreting the opening line “Got a feeling twenty-one is going to be a good year, especially if you and me see it in together.”
I always took it to be a birthday, someone turning twenty-one. Turns out that two decades later, I learned the song is called 1921, they’re ringing in the year, not the age. I suppose that’s what happens when you never check the liner notes (ask your parents Gen Zers).
I’ve been thinking about those two particular lines as we barrel towards two thousand twenty one(!). As we put 2020 in the rear view mirror, the temptation is certainly to look forward to life getting back to normal. But the one and only gift this year has given us is a good hard look at our society and our world. Worsening effects from climate change, inequality and racism, lack of a safety net for so many, corporations overwhelming small businesses.
I hope that instead of rushing back to our pre-2020 lives, we can all take the weeks and months after the immediate threat of Covid-19 is greatly reduced to step back. What should working and commuting look like? What is the role of policing? How should we shop? Where should we eat? Can we dim the influence of those with traditional power and raise the voices of the overlooked?
Some of these issues will require pushing for policy changes, some require business to be held accountable for doing the right thing, and some require individual behavior changes on a large scale. In each case, that means doing it together. One person shopping in bulk helps reduce packaging. Thousands of customers buying one million dollars annually from the bulk department at their co-op is incredible. A law outlawing single use plastics is world changing.
Got a feeling twenty-one is going to be a good year, especially if you and me see it in together.
None of this is going to be easy, and it requires a lot of imagination to change the way we live. Never before has life been put on pause for so many, and we can’t afford to just let the moment pass by in order to quickly get back to happy hours and vacationing. This co-op and the community we’ve all created together are committed to progress and equality. Our local partnerships give us allies in this work. Our position in the national cooperative movement offers a unique opportunity to leverage our impact and learn from others.
I had no reason to be over-optimistic. But somehow, when you smile, I can brave bad weather.
Have a safe and happy New Year, and I hope ’21 is a good year that gives us all some reasons to smile and to be together again.