Will 2021 be better — or worse?

Happy New Year?

As we stand on the threshold of a new year, people in my line of work are expected to say something profound.

We often disappoint.

At this time last year, was there any of us who anticipated what we were to face in the Year of Our Lord 2020? Answer: Nope. There was not a Nostradamus among us. 

I will crawl out on the limb and say 2021 will be better than 2020. How could it be worse? 2020 was the crappiest year in memory. 

Here I am being optimistic. Is that warranted, or is pessimism a more accurate flavor? How do you feel about the coming year?

I do have one idea. 

When we get the all clear, that the sonofabitch virus is contained, the day we get to take off our masks becomes a national holiday — Masks Off Day that we celebrate annually.

No, not a legal holiday, just a happy one. Maybe we drag our masks out of the closet and show them to friends and family. Maybe a competition for the most colorful, or funny, or appropriate mask.

Just a thought.

In 2021 we will more appreciate being with friends and family, and even being in a crowd of strangers without fear of infection. Dining in a restaurant will be a treat again, along with sporting events, the theater and concerts. All of life’s little pleasures we had taken for granted.

Do you suppose some hidden hand behind this offered this as a lesson?

We’ve been put through the ringer this year. Some of us responded heroically — I am thinking mostly of doctors and nurses who exposed themselves to death — but to a lesser degree so did anyone connected with the supermarkets and drug stores that kept us fed and supplied, and first responders. But it also exposed those cowards who hoarded, or gouged, or conducted themselves… dishonorably. 

Can we discuss honor, or is that too incredibly old fashioned to find service in the 21st Century?

If someone today said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” they would be laughed out of the room by progressives as some sort of an authoritarian fascist. Along with honor, sacrifice seems to be a word, a concept, out of step with the self-centered times.

For Christmas, out of the blue, a friend gave me a copy of “The Last American Hero,” a biography of astronaut-turned-senator John Glenn, written by Alice L. George, who was the managing editor of the Philadelphia Daily News for a short time during my long internment there.

The recurring words in the bio were patriotic, family, small town, curiosity, loyalty, religious, humility, brave, service, humorous. . . The embodiment of what he was a member of — the Greatest Generation.

That term was not an empty bouquet. These were the men — and women — who survived the Great Depression, set the world free from the Axis, then returned home to build the greatest manufacturing base the world had ever seen, even while helping our Allies — and our enemies — to get to their feet. America won the war and owned the peace.

That is one of the reasons we are an exceptional nation. 

Not a perfect nation, but an exceptional one.

And if that is true, and we have come off the canvas before to win the bout, how can I not believe that in 2021 we will begin to turn this mess around?

As I tell my short-of-faith friends, don’t bet against America.

32 thoughts on “Will 2021 be better — or worse?”

  1. You are a dreamer, Stu – but my favorite one! More like a practical dreamer. LoL. Good words and good thoughts in today’s piece. Have a Healthy and Happy 2021.

    While we celebrate masks off day, it is your duty to inform all, to wear proper I.D.. “ hello, my name is….” for starters, but it really should include a photo I.D. . After all, it’s been so long since I saw your smiling face. How would I know that “you “ are really “YOU “ !
    HAPPY NEW YEAR to all !

    1. This godawful year taught us how to appreciate what we have: family, friends and the fortitude to get through everything we dealt with this year. My only fear is that my kids have become too accustomed to being holed up in the house, mesmerized by their phones. I’m constantly reinforcing my love of being outdoors, breathing fresh air, enjoying nature. Something the virus couldn’t take away

  3. Stu, your optimism reminds me of the guy who fell out of the 30th floor window. On his way down, every floor he passed he commented, “So far, so good!” I fear our government has planted the seeds of destruction of the economy and the currency, whose effects remain yet to be seen. A simple truth is our government cannot wipe out some 50% of small businesses (restaurants, Mom-and-Pop stores of all varieties, etc.) without a tsunami of financial domino effects (employees losing their jobs, truckers not having deliveries to make, gasoline sales falling, sales taxes plummeting, etc.); and printing money with no underpinning is exactly what Germany did prior to WWII; the hyperinflation that awaits us will make us look upon the Jimmy Carter years of 20% inflation with nostalgia. Our government’s ‘victory’ over Covid-19 will be Pyrrhic As the American officer said, standing among the ruins of a village in Vietnam, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” I wish I could be more sanguine. But I also remember the old saw: “Smile! Things could be worse!”

      1. It was in Philadelphia. They picked him up with a sponge and a squeegee, but he still managed to vote a few months later.

        1. Too funny… “they”probably chanted “ Vote early, vote often!” as well. Thanks for the end of year laugh Vince!

    1. Vince – an expression I use from time to tome that covers what you said goes something like this: “Some days are like that. Some days are worse!”

  4. We could say that 2021 could make America the comeback kid by getting off the Covid-19 canvas and opening up the country for full enjoyment. As to the man upstairs I will yield to George Carlin as my expert. Nostradamus had a success rate lower than the normal 50% of the average person’s ability to make a prediction and practiced plagiarism. Allow me to make my unsolicited prediction for 2021. We will control the virus by the summer of the year but a spin-off now beginning will limit the removal of masks. The progressive movement will have mixed results but in Philadelphia, the blind allegiance democrats will continue to rule. The Phillies will make the playoffs and end there. And racism will continue to be used by demagogues and the media to spout the false narrative of police abuse, white guilt and ignore the failure of our school system to produce a sufficient number of viable college students. The only prediction I won’t touch is on life dependency as I am closing in on that number.

  5. Stu… it was a dumpster fire of a year, but the optimist in me says 2021will be better. Thanks for keeping it real throughout the craziness these past 365 days. Inspiring words from you throughout 2020.

    Best wishes to everyone for a happy and mask free 2021!

  6. Well-written, Stu. As my late Dad used to say, “We are Americans; we can do anything!” He was one of the greatest generation. He survived the depression by working while going to Central high school and then a couple of years at Temple Univ. before he got caught in the peacetime draft. He served in the combat engineers and was sent to Alaska from the south 48 shortly after war was declared. He built Army installations and airfields in the bitter cold, participated in the brutal battle with the Japanese on Attu Island on Engineer Ridge in Massacre Valley, and persevered through 33 months in the frozen north. What he experienced was not unlike that which the Continental Army suffered through at Valley Forge and the Battle of Trenton. Dad came home, got married, rejoined the family real estate business with his father, mother and brother, also a combat vet, and made a life. They are all gone now, but he remains my hero. Like John Glenn, Dad and countless other men went over, did their job and saved the world in the process, came back and lived decent lives so that their families could enjoy the peace. He put my two brothers am through law school and only asked in return that we maintain our mother in the house which he built once he was gone. We kept that promise to him. With all of our other true American heroes denigrated and taken from us, they can’t take my Dad, Col. Glenn or that incredible generation.

    1. HAPPY FRIDAY !!!
      HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!
      To the man ( and woman ). If you asked them if they were heroes, first youwould get a strange look from them. Second, the other guy. Always the other guy ! Patriotism, love of country, humility, duty, honor and respect, to name a few reasons why indeed, our parents were
      the greatest generation” !
      Health and Happiness to all !

  7. It’s a good time to read about heroes.
    I, finally, in the past few days, read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals” and came away with an even deeper respect for Lincoln
    and the understanding that patience is a virtue.
    Central Casting could not have created his cabinet, let alone
    the stress of a Civil War, the deaths of two of his children and the
    questionable sanity of his wife.
    Somehow, he managed all of these things, with grace and humor.
    We could use both of those things nowadays.

    1. It’s no wonder Abe is always in the Top 5, maybe 3.
      No. 1, to me, George Washington… because he had to invent the office, the adversity was enormous, Congress was (as usual) ornery, and because he could have been king.
      America was blessed by most of our Founders.

      1. It’s tough to argue against Washington, who established so much as president
        that we, in the 21st century, take for granted.
        But, as you and I know, I once worked for the publishing house that produced
        Parson Weems’ biography of Washington that gave us the cherry tree story.

  8. Mr. Byofsky,

    Your article describes the generation of my mom & dad, may they Rest In Peace. And the values & principles you described were front and center of their being. Thank you!!

    Also, today marks my last day I will read any of the dribble advanced by your former employer. Truthful, honest and unbiased reporting died a while ago. I have been holding out hope that it would return. False hope, it seems. From hence forward, I will be visiting your site.

    Best wishes & Happy New Year!

  9. Stu, Like Thomas Eislow I gave up on The Inquirer in June after having it delivered for many years and even in the
    summer in Ocean City, NJ. Your article describes my parents, may they rest in peace!
    I always enjoyed reading your column in the Inquirer now I read your posts.
    Happy Healthy New Year to all!

  10. HAPPY MONDAY !!!
    A common thread. It appears that most, if not all of us are “war babies”. We missed out on the world wars, and the great depression and the collapse of the economy, courtesy of wall street. We did not miss out on recessions, depressions and great times outweighing the sad times. We have lived through lousy crooked politicians – both local and national. We have lived through countless wars, where our sons, daughters, friends went off to defend our country and came back physically broken and sometimes mentally damaged. We even eeked out a Phillies World Championship, not to be outdone by the Eagles ! The Flyers had their time in the sum, also. And still we go on. We are a resilient lot, us Americans.
    I have to believe that we will weather this latest storm . We have seen bad politics before – albeit – not at this level. Hopefully, America will wake up ! Sooner rather than later. We have been asleep for too many decades. Washington D.C. . The thought is simplicity. “GRIP” “Get Rid of Incompetent Politicians “!
    Health and Happiness to all,

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