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  • Matt Reno

One Last Look Back

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Well, 2020 is coming to a close, thankfully. No need to go into why most of are singing that Counting Crows line, "There's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last." But before we completely put this year in the rearview mirror, I think it's a good idea to reflect on it and see what lessons we might have learned through this struggle.


My biggest takeaway was that 2020 was the realest reminder possible of our interconnectedness. The virus landed on every single continent (yes, even Antarctica), meaning this struggle effected every human being on the planet in one way or another. Sadly, however, too many failed to rise to the challenge of looking out for one another. Here in America as well as in other countries, while many people wore masks and avoided large gatherings, too many others scoffed at these small sacrifices. They hid their selfishness and lack of caring under the guise of "individual liberty," and as a result, a bad situation got much worse than it needed to be. The pandemic also revealed very starkly the faults in our economic system. That is to say, the rich got richer while many others, including those deemed "essential" suffered. Let's hope that somehow, 2021 will start bringing back the notions of shared sacrifice.


Racial inequality got much needed attention in America. Police brutality against people of color is nothing new, but after the sickening nature of George Floyd's murder, many white people who had been turning a blind eye to systemic racism finally started waking up. While we have a long way to go, I feel we've taken some small but necessary steps on a path toward a better future. Personally I've been making a more conscious effort to recognize my own biases and privileges and find ways to make things better in whatever ways I can. One book that I've found helpful has been Stay Woke: A People's Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi and Candis Watts Smith.

In terms of art, as I wrote about recently, I had big plans for 2020 that I put on hold, but I learned how to keep moving forward when things got weird. Instead of in-person workshops, I hosted online ones. Bluegrass Printmakers couldn't hold galleries, but we found a way to create successful virtual galleries. Without commission work or art fairs, I kept making prints just for the love of it. That led to an enjoyable, ongoing Roadside Americana series, two entries of which are part of the Lexington Art League's current gallery. Fortunately, printmaking is a side gig for me, not something I rely on for income. There are lots of artists who've had to keep moving forward in new ways as a means of survival, and that's why I've tried to support those people the best I could throughout the year.


I could go on and on. After all, 2020 presented so many challenges on a variety of levels. But I'll end by summing up what I feel is this year's most powerful and often painful reminder: Human beings are resilient but we're at our best when that resilience comes from taking care of one another. This year showed humanity at both its worst and its best. I'm more grateful than ever for my family and friends as well as for those I don't know but that I rely upon: the healthcare workers, the grocery store employees, the local restaurant staff. Never before has the line "we're all in this together" been more applicable. For 2021, let's all resolve to put that sentiment into action better than we did this year.

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