Remember back in those heady days of December when we believed that 2021 would arrive with promise, cleanse us from the stink of 2020, and make us vital again? We were so naïve.
What I have realized about 2021is that 2020 was a devastation. I’ll paint you a picture. You know how when a tornado hits a community in the Midwest in the spring and the news reporters swoop in to report on the devastation? And the reporters inevitably go to the worst-hit streets in a community and start interviewing the survivors. The survivors are dazed, amazed, distraught, and yet thankful that they survived. They will rebuild they say. They are resilient they say.
But then you look at the devastation and you say to yourself, how the heck are they going to rebuild from that disaster.
That’s us in 2021.
But I guess the survivors do rebuild. I have to guess, because the news reporters usually don’t return a year to two later to let us know how things are going.
How are we going to rebuild from 2020? We have no choice, really. We either rebuild, reinvent, and reimagine, or we are not going to make it.
I feel like our American ingenuity and swagger is dented. Maybe broken. This is not going to be easy. And I wonder if we have become a nation unwilling or unable to meet the challenge.
Our institutions are beleaguered. Our ties and relationships are fractured. Our faith in our leaders has been lost.
This I know: Washington and its posturing politicos are not going to revitalize our communities. Hartford’s big spenders are biased toward our crumbling cities.
If we are going to come back, we are going to do it street by street, community by community. Our local institutions – little leagues, PTAs, churches, and gyms - are going to help guide us. And, importantly, the small businesses that drive our economy are going to matter as much as ever.
After our families, our most important relationships are built and nurtured through our work. Now is the time that leaders of management and employees must work together to ensure that our people have what they need to be well.
I have been thinking a lot about what I can do as an employment lawyer and a union lawyer to get this country back on its feet. And I am not going to be of any help if I engage in battles with employers. My role, as I see it, is to find ways to collaborate with employers to make sure that employees are honored for the important jobs that they do, and to make sure that they have the tools needed to do their jobs well.
There are essential building blocks for living well. We all need to get our sleep. We need to stay hydrated. We need to eat healthy meals. We need to move every day. We need to be tasked with using our minds and our bodies to get our work done. We need to have agency over our routines. Employers can play a key role in ensuring that employees meet all of these needs on a daily basis.
Our strength to get past 2020 is within all of us. Now we have to start along a path that allows us to express what is good in each of us and get it done.