The saying “Happy New Year” this time around seems to have a whole new meaning. Is it really a happy one, though? Are all of our troubles from 2020 just going to magically disappear? Knocking on wood, crossing our fingers and toes, burning as much sage as one possibly can or wishing upon a star unfortunately is not going to bring an end to the challenges that have rolled over into this new year. So, how do we make sure this year is more healthy and prosperous for all of us; actually, I think the answer is more simplistic than we would like to admit.

Working together collectively is what we will need to do, not only this year but in the years to come. We cannot sit out various challenges that our nation faces simply because we think they do not affect us and say “it is not my problem.” If we do not meet this moment together as one nation, I shudder to think what will happen next. I am asking you to overcome the hardships you have had to endure last year and I realize that in such situations we cannot leave our American brothers and sisters behind to fend for themselves as we have done so many times before during recoveries. The death toll is too high, the injustices too great, the grief too deep, the economic situation too bleak, and the political divide too debilitating to think that each of us can go this fight alone.

Understand, this crisis is not too great to combat. One of the reasons I love this country is because of our fighting spirit. Even in our darkest hours and I do believe right now is one of them, our resilience has always prevailed. Generations of Americans before us have taken our nation’s darkest moments and turned them into stories of American triumph; now it is our turn to be present and in the moment. It is my hope that in this new year we can share the commitment to be vigilant, and eager to extend a helping hand, a listening ear, a willingness to understand and compromise when and where required.

Working to achieve peace and healing is not always easy but it starts with thoughts and actions of the well intentioned. Go easy on yourselves as we embark on this journey for what is important; growth and pulling as many up with us as we can along the way.

This is a moment to consider the question of John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?” It is in those little moments of humility and empathy with each interaction with our fellow citizens that will get America not only back on her feet, but with new and improved vitality for us all.

Ivana Y. Hall is a former Miss Hunt County 2011, former Miss Texas 2013 and a current political organizer in New Hampshire, Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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