In some ways, 2020 toughened us up for this year but also sucked up a lot of our energy, resilience, and optimism. With the challenges we faced, it feels like you’ve aged years since COVID-19 struck.

This is more than a feeling. According to final data released Dec. 21, 2021, by the National Center for Health Statistics, the pandemic shaved two years of life expectancy in the U.S. For Black men, it’s three years. It’s time for a new game plan in 2022.

COVID-19 seems like our worst enemy, but it’s only doing what viruses do. It is trying to stay alive. For it to live, humans become the collateral damage. While a virus is not a living cell, it is a parasitic organism working to find a living host. The longer viruses hang around, the more reinforcements they can summon. That’s why we now have Delta and Omicron variants. More of their buddies are waiting in the cut.

The two biggest reasons COVID-19 is alive and well are human ignorance and political stupidity. They are nourishing an environment that allows the virus to keep hanging out with us.

We aren’t likely to change the attitudes of a governor who wants to prosecute a city or school official for pushing mask mandates to save lives.

We haven’t persuaded enough parents who balk at getting their children vaccinated from COVID yet were willing to approve of required immunizations to safeguard them from childhood diseases.

We should continue to educate and agitate those we love and those in positions of authority who make decisions about our lives. We only control our own actions and hope they influence the actions of others.

We must find the strength and the hope to get back as much of our lives as we safely can. There are places to visit. Graduations to attend. Grandmas to visit. Gardens to grow. Children to love. Books to read. We’ve missed a lot.

There’s a world that needs our attention. Racism didn’t sit down because of COVID-19, injustice still abounds. Moping, being frustrated or angry at the world is not going to change this situation. This is mission possible.

The first phase of the mission is to prepare for the long haul. At the rate the pandemic is going, it could be another two years of vaccinations, incessant handwashing, social distancing, and facial masking. We need to get a sleep routine, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and get regular exercise.

There will be stress coming our way, so get some deep breathing in along with some meditation. Get grounded so you can’t be knocked off your game. Bring positive people around you. Laugh more. You are building up your endurance for your spiritual and mental health. You can’t rumble with ‘Rona’ if you’re weak in mind, body, and spirit.

A new year must bring new ways of living. This is the change COVID-19 is forcing upon us. Many could not do it on our own, but here we are.

Our shields against the virus are a healthy lifestyle, determination, and information. We must be victors of this mortal combat, not statistics. Let’s get to living and loving!

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