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Reader response

Moving beyond 2020: Looking to the future with guarded optimism

Our readers take stock of how last year has impacted our lives and their worldviews.

In our recent reader survey, we asked for specific responses on the economy, education, race, the future of work and trust in information sources, and how their views had evolved over the course of the past year. What we received confirmed that 2020 and this period of time has changed us all.

At the close of the survey we had an open-ended prompt, asking for a broader perspective: Are there any other ways the events past year changed your mind on issues, or your view of the world? How do you think that will impact how you approach your career, interactions with others and life in general going forward?

Here is what some of our readers shared:

“I have an optimistic view of the world. I think we’re experiencing an incredible disruption to a way of living that wasn’t in balance for far too many people. That’s hard to see on the day-to-day, but I think it results in a path to a better world in the long run.” — Brett Brenton, Senior Director of Learning Networks, Forward Cities

Brett Brenton
A'Yanna T. Webster

[This year] has made me more open to point out racial inequity in the workplace and to have these sometimes difficult discussions with whites because of their fragility. It has changed where I desire to focus my consulting work, more on this critical issue, as well as my HR career focus.” — A’Yanna T. Webster, Principal Consultant, Winning Within & Associates

David Freyder

Our political system is the best out there, but could be so much better, and is currently broken. It has come down to two teams – the red team and the blue team – and winning at any cost is the goal. We have lost sight that this approach always leads to America losing. Although I am not sure of the exact solution, I do think basic healthcare coverage for all (with options for people to purchase better healthcare), term limits (which I believe will curb special interests and the crazy spending to secure positions in the government will be minimized), and a general respect for others’ opinions (don’t have to agree with others, but listen and try to understand their point of view) would be a great start to moving America forward to achieving all it can be…” — David Freyder, CEO/Founder, G’Day Imports, LLC.

“I am generally a pretty positive person, so I go along thinking things will get better, but then I talk to a friend, or see more news, or hear that someone still blindly supports those who are wreaking havoc in our country and wonder if this is the new normal or a precursor of worse things to come. I’m scared and sad, disillusioned and angry. But then it’s a new day and I do my best to be kind and respectful, since I believe that treating each other respectfully is the one thing that keeps us healthy in relationships with each other, our communities, our states, and between countries.” — Justine Allen, Program and Event Manager, Ten at the Top

Justine Allen

I believe that treating each other respectfully is the one thing that keeps us healthy in relationships with each other, our communities, our states, and between countries.

— Justine Allen
Program and Event Manager, Ten at the Top

“I am deeply worried as I see and hear so many acquaintances share opinions that are not based, in my opinion, on truth. I worry about the way leaders of churches have perpetuated mistruths to promote an agenda that is far different than what Christ ever taught. I fear that the past four years have accelerated all this on many levels and now the genie is out of the bottle… We desperately need to build community, love all our neighbors, and realize we are all in this together.” — Mary Beth Gentry, Executive Director, Young Women on the Move

Mary Beth Gentry

My most profound changes will be about biases, especially my own, and how they impact my opinions and actions.

— Dodie Jacobi
CEO/President, Dodiodo Omnimedia Edutainment Properties

Dodie Jacobi

My most profound changes will be about biases, especially my own, and how they impact my opinions and actions. I’ve also realized how much policy impacts every aspect of our lives and livelihoods. I will not fall asleep at the wheel again nor miss the chance to influence policy through activism and political engagement. And I will use every trick in my arsenal to maintain the pace of this era that affords more expansive space to live gracefully and intentionally.” — Dodie Jacobi, CEO/President, Dodiodo Omnimedia Edutainment Properties

My views on race, gender, technology, and wealth have changed over the last year. My priorities have changed, my outlook has changed. I am more interested in the part of work that takes care of the planet but in a way that is intersectional with race, gender, class, and other aspects of equitability and liberation, as they are strongly connected. Working simply on climate change is not enough.” — Beena Ramaswami, Associate Principal/Director of Brand Identity, BNIM

Beena Ramaswami
Jill H. Vassar

“I will be ever more grateful for health, hearth, and science. I will give everyone even more grace in all things. I will no longer take for granted going out to eat, going to concerts, going to church, and going to parties. I will act on my outrage when it comes to social justice issues – as soon as I can figure out what I can do with my skillset to advance the cause in ways small and large… I am angry beyond belief [about] the incomplete history we have been taught about the Indigenous peoples who were here first – and how I was 50 years old before I ever heard the term ‘Doctrine of Discovery.’ I am very concerned about the polarization of our communities and pray for leaders who are reasonable and middle-of-the-road and who can build consensus.” — Jill H. Vassar, Chief Development and Partnerships Officer, EPIcenter (San Antonio, TX)

I have been profoundly changed by 2020. I am a grant writer, and I have seen foundations move mountains to help others. It has been a hard year for so many, and I have seen the varied responses of fear change motivations in so many people. Those with a kind and compassionate heart have risen to forefront as trustworthy.” — Samantha Jones, Grant Writer, Evangel University

Samantha Jones
Yarrow Kraner

“My hope is that we as a collective humanity can see and understand from the pandemic that everything is connected.  It’s not about country borders. We need to move from a ME to a WE mindset.” — Yarrow Kraner, Founder/CEO of HATCH &