“Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past.
Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.”
—Justin Brooks Atkinson
Upon his death in 1984, the New York Times wrote of Justin Brooks Atkinson, where he had worked from 1922 until 1960, that he was ”the theater’s most influential reviewer of his time.” I wonder what he would have written about the “show” that was 2020?
He did write that, “In every age ‘the good old days’ were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them.” He wrote through the Great Depression, World War II and the McCarthy Era, so he lived through no shortage of trials and tribulations.
I know one of the things I have been thinking a lot about lately has been the perseverance of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents. When my father was a child during the Great Depression, his parents couldn’t afford to repair the holes in the soles of his shoes, so he stuffed them with newspapers. Those aren’t just stories anymore. They’re beacons. Who ever thought we would walk in those shoes?
The Greatest Generation learned many lessons, not the least was the extraordinary power of collective action. Marching, as it was, in the same direction. To say we have lost that theology is an understatement. To get from here to there, to take advantage of the returning optimism, requires that we listen, learn and let go of our certainty. Or, as Mr. Atkinson wrote, “The most fatal illusion is the narrow point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.” Seems like a perfect New Year’s resolution.