Through the hardships of 2020, Key Biscayne has shown its true nature as a caring, resilient community

Through the hardships of 2020, Key Biscayne has shown its true nature as a caring, resilient community

Last year at this time, I wrote an editorial that started: #whatadifferenceayearmakes. That was in reference to the “year of change” that was 2019. After this year -- tumultuous, tragic, depressing, or whatever adjective you use to describe 2020; they ALL fit -- a new version of that hashtag seems appropriate:

#whatayear!

When I think about everything that happened in 2020, my heart is filled with a heavy sadness, but also faith and confidence that we will persevere and be better than before.

Let’s see what we faced. Racial tensions and demonstrations. Australian wildfires. A riveting presidential election that seems destined to never end. A contentious and divisive island election, with 10 candidates vying for 3 Village Council seats. A local bond referendum that threatened to tear the heart out of our community and saw longtime friends become foes over the issue. The resignation of our Village Manager Andrea Agha and the replacement process now underway. And an uproar over an Islander News political cartoon that gained national exposure when the Washington Post picked up the story.

Oh. And let’s not forget the COVID-19 pandemic that started in Wuhan, China and has now impacted most every country in the world. Its impact is frightening -- close to 80 million confirmed cases worldwide, and close to 1.8 million virus-related deaths. On the island, infections continue to spread, and by now most all of us know someone who died as a result of the virus -- perhaps a neighbor, a family member or a close friend.

We have also seen family, friends and coworkers get infected, suffer the symptoms, and recover from their battle. Medical science will be studying the long term effects of the virus on people for years.

Island businesses felt the economic impact of the pandemic, with many closing as restrictive measures on social interactions were put in place. Many of us saw friends and neighbors lose their jobs, or have their incomes severely restricted by earnings reductions.

The COVID caseload continues to grow, with the US leading the world in number of cases, infection rates and deaths. Florida -- and in particular South Florida -- continues to be a hot spot for the virus. Adherence to social distancing and mask-wearing directives remain disturbingly inconsistent.

Yet, here we are, at the end of the year, celebrating the hopeful news of newly developed vaccines being administered.

Through all of this, we slowly changed behaviors to cope with the deadly reality of the virus. There are many positives on which to focus. We are finding new ways to coexist. We are helping those most in need of assistance. We are working together, changing how we collaborate and cooperate. All of this portends great things for our future, post-COVID -- IF we adopt these behaviors as our New Reality.

Look around and we can see evidence of a resilient community that refuses to be defeated. We have our eyes on a brighter future. As evidence, look at the resurgent island real estate market, which has bounced back strong and gives us hope for a better 2021.

But this goes deeper than business.

Generosity has become the norm again.

People realize that kindness, patience and cooperation are the essential building blocks to a strong Key Biscayne community. Volunteerism is growing. Families in need have been fed, seniors have been helped, the holiday season saw gifts being donated for children most threatened by poverty. And there has been an outpouring of appreciation and love for the village’s first responders, who selflessly have fought on the front lines to ensure our safety.

As we enter 2021, we should all take pride in how Key Biscayne has faced COVID. How it has not only remained strong but has, in fact, grown into an even more thoughtful, empathetic and caring community.

We have, out of necessity, strengthened the essence of what makes Key Biscayne special.

We should never forget the losses suffered and pain experienced in 2020, but even more important is to be certain we never lose sight of the strength we’ve gained.

The fabric of our community is stronger now than ever.

May the year 2021 bring better days.

Our small but dedicated Islander News staff thanks you, our wonderful readers and digital users, for your support and appreciation of us as we report on island life. It is a labor of love!

Justo

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