MATTHEWS: What we all should resolve to do better in 2021

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The year 2020 has undoubtedly been a tough year for everyone, and it has been worse for some more so than others.

The coronavirus pandemic has been central to the woes of most Americans, starting with the outbreak in Washington state in February and continuing since.


While the availability of a vaccine (and more than one at that) has provided renewed hope for millions that life in America can soon get back to some sense of normalcy, there are things we as Americans can do in the meantime in order to hopefully speed up the process.

For starters, there needs to be a return to showing each other some basic courtesy.

This is anecdotal to be sure, but for about six weeks or so after the lockdowns began, I noticed that whenever I went out to the store to shop, or otherwise had to interact with neighbors in some way, there was a sense of togetherness and community. It was like most people had the “we’ll-get-through-this” mentality. There was a resoluteness to their behavior.

People were helping each other obtain hard-to-find items in the stores, like toilet paper. Others would give up their spots in line for an elderly shopper or for someone who only had a few items. You didn’t often see fights for parking spaces.

Most people, it seemed, appeared to have the mindset of “I’ve got more concerning things to worry about than who gets in line ahead of me.”

As the pandemic has dragged on, however, I’ve seen a change on this front, and I’ve read stories from others who have noticed the same thing. They’ve witnessed that people, in general, are much more short-tempered and less likely to be friendly and courteous in random interactions. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve encountered rude drivers and shoppers when I head out to run errands. This has become much more common than it was in the pre-pandemic days.

2021 has got to be better than 2020 was. It’s just got to be.

Along with the slow erosion of courtesy, we’ve seen patience fly out the window. It is without fail that someone will cut me off at a red light, or at the drive-through. I’ve talked to countless others who’ve noticed the uptick on things like this. The common refrain I hear is, “It wasn’t always this bad.”

While these incidents may not sound like much, daily interactions with people are a much bigger part of our lives than we give them credit for. Sometimes a good experience when you’re out and about can make the difference between having a really good day and a really bad one. Consistently being on the receiving end of discourteousness and impatience leads to bad attitudes fast, and that can have a negative trickle-down effect on others.

On one hand, it’s understandable that patience and courtesy are in short supply. Many have lost their jobs and/or have become isolated from their families, either due to government mandates or out of a sense of precaution. We are inundated with constant news reports on the latest case numbers and on how many have unfortunately lost their lives to the virus, all of which has left people on edge.

There are also all the reports on the mask wars, where some are being shamed for not wearing masks or where some non-mask wearers are taking out their frustrations on grocery store clerks and managers who are just trying to do their best.

This was also a presidential election year, where tensions tend to run high anyway.

On the other hand, however, that sense of togetherness and community is very important, and we’ve got to find a way to make it stronger again.

Because 2021 has got to be better than 2020 was. It’s just got to be.

Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.