February 17, 2022, is a day I still vividly remember. It was the day we truly began to return to a new normal. I recall during lunch getting the word. We were informed we could take down the plexiglass barriers placed between each other at lunch, and put them away in a closet. One by one, students tore down these isolating barriers and exiled them to the storage closet. Everyone watched as the final one was placed away, and the door closed. The room was silent. Moments later, an individual yelled out "we won!" and the room erupted with cheer and applause. Hugs were given, tears were rolled, and pure joy filled the halls. That was the beginning of our year.
We started the year with tremendous progress and saw more during the year, but then problems emerged globally. War, returning disease, economic crises, national and international conflicts, and corruption, just to name a few. Despite all of the pain, evil, and suffering that has happened this year, I feel we are heading into a new dawn. One in which we seek peace, health, unity, and collaboration in taking on the greatest challenges our world faces. Much of this year we spent setting goals and making a vision for what we want to see. But we must remember failing to act, makes us destined to fail.
We have faced similar scenarios in the past. We must never forget Winston Churchill's words: “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it". We have so much information regarding situations of the past and how we overcame them. Additionally, we have a significant amount of tools at our disposal to utilize in responding. We must assess and reflect on our past and adapt those lessons we learned to the situations at hand. This year has undoubtedly caused pain and suffering for many once again. We won't get back much of what we lost. But we can still salvage the progress we made this year and the situations we are dealing with. We still have time to fix our wrongs and make more rights.
We must all take responsibility for where we are today. But we must remain optimistic about the unique opportunity we have. We are still growing more and more separated from the pandemic, meaning that as we pull away from it, we have a relatively clean slate to work with. Many youth groups that have been on hiatus due to the pandemic, as they reconvene are reassessing where they are and adapting to the situation. They are now returning stronger than ever. Globally, people are speaking up for what they believe in more than ever. We all want to see some change from the past 30+ months.
In the end, let us reflect on the past so that we may develop a better future. History is the best teacher, and that is more important today than ever. Let justice be made. Let peace be found. Let your voice be heard. Let us pledge to work for a better year as we begin 2023.