A Note From our Editor – Jan. 2021
Welcome to 2021!
While our writers for the January 2021 issue of Giving Voice will not remember “Y2K” (most were not born yet), I realized recently it was the last time that the dawning of a new year was so globally anticipated.
It was 1999—I was sixteen at the time, and I recall terrifying reports of what might happen when the clock struck midnight on January 1. The year 2000—or Y2K—brought with it a computer programming bug that many thought would wreak havoc on computer systems that only allowed two digits for recording a year (e.g., “99” instead of “1999”). Essentially, it would make the year 2000 indistinguishable from the year 1900. Without proper preparation, this programming glitch might bring down computer-based infrastructures globally… from power plants and banks, to government systems and more.
But it didn’t. Yes, there were a few problems, but by and large life continued on smoothly. This didn’t happen because the threat was not real—quite the contrary. Governments and businesses took the threat seriously, dedicating time and resources to solving the problem. As I watched the ball drop in New York City from the television, we sailed into 2000 without incident.
Two decades later, we enter into 2021—and instead of coordinated government efforts to tackle the issues we face, we are met with partisanship, misinformation, and fatigue. And just as nothing magical happened when the clock rolled over into 2000, nothing tangible has really changed in 2021.
But I find one other difference more interesting: while we entered 2000 with dread, we have entered 2021 with the intangible… hope.
Hope is a force that should never be underestimated. It drives us, provides direction, and gives us a reason to keep fighting. This type of motivation acknowledges reality while pushing us to strive for something better. In this issue of Giving Voice, you will read the words of young people who ask you to join them in tackling the issues we face in 2021. From worldwide food insecurity and environmental racism, to partisanship and representation, they remind us that 2021 can be a year of solutions.
As former First Lady Michelle Obama notes:
“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.”
In that spirit, let us enter 2021 with hope and courage.
Happy New Year!
Mae Gilliland Wright, PhD
Giving Voice Editor-in-Chief