Mike Kellems: There were positives in 2020. Yes, there were. I said, yes, there were.


By WNLP’s Mike Kellems

It is 2021! I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever wanted a year to end as much as I have as 2020. I said before that I didn’t want to review all of the negative, so let’s you and I just leave the bad stuff where it belongs: in the rear view mirror. Let’s you and I focus on what is right in our corner of the world.  


Undoubtedly the word of the year will be “pandemic,” and it is justified. That being said, a very close second would be the word “resilient.” Whether you know it or not, we are resilient people and we’ve been through worse … much worse. 

During the First World War a pandemic struck. In October of 1918, 195,000 Americans died, and at the peak of the pandemic, 500 million people worldwide were taken ill. The Great Depression, assault on Pearl Harbor, World War II and 9-11 are just some of the horrific events that seemed insurmountable at their beginning. 

But you know what? We hunkered down, weathered the storm and came out stronger as a nation. I have every confidence that we will again, once COVID is given the boot.

 Let’s take a look at some of the positives that have occurred this past year:

– There has been less traffic and, as a result, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased significantly, a 2.4-billion-ton drop. 

– During a few work-related trips to Chicago, I found it easier than ever to zip in and zip out of the Windy City. 

– While we could no longer eat in at many of our favorite places (oh yes … Indiana Deli ) the restaurants stepped up with curbside and home delivery. 

– Churches went outside and online to maintain their flocks. 

– Athletic directors worked their collective tails off so that high school athletes had an opportunity to compete. 

– While there is no replacement for face-to-face meetings, we found that we could “Zoom” in on meetings. 

– La Porte County’s industrious animal shelter reports that cat adoptions “skyrocketed,” and they’ve also taken in fewer of man’s best friend. 

– Working from home became a much bigger thing and gave us more family time (that could be good or bad – or both). 

– I, for one, have learned to respect store clerks and cashiers more than ever. In truth, I never gave them much thought before. Don’t get me wrong, I dearly miss all of the good people I encountered almost daily before the demise of Al’s West. However, in our rush-rush world, I often would hurry in, crack a few jokes to the folks, grab what I need, hit the shortest checkout line and be out the door. Cashiers are on their feet, always smiling, not very well protected from the elements and exposed to all manner of viruses, and yet there they stand, waiting to serve you every day. Please join me in never overlooking these folks again.

– Another incredible positive from 2020 was witnessing the dedication and loyalty of our first responders. We are so blessed to have so many public servants willing to stay the course in the midst of the pandemic. In all reality, our police officers, firefighters and in particular our emergency medical service staff are second to none considering what they were faced with. Sure, that is what they get paid for; they even received hazard pay to the tune of $2.63 (before taxes) for their efforts each shift. Regardless of the risk, no matter what the call was, they responded every time they were called. I’ll put the nurses, doctors, custodians, clerks and supporting cast of all of our area hospitals in that same category of ultimate respect.

For me, the best takeaway from 2020 was a reminder of our resiliency. Teachers learned to teach via the Internet. Vaccine makers sped it up. Local government members stayed on the path even when they didn’t always know where the path was taking them. We learned to tell when someone smiles behind a mask. Families made do with less. And the list goes on. 

As you look toward the promise of a new year, take a few minutes to look back on 2020 and find the positives that happened in your life. They are out there, waiting to be recognized behind the fog of a most unusual year. Use them to help us all build positives upon positives in the coming year.

On behalf of the staff at WNLP, I wish you all a happy and prosperous (and positive!) New Year … may she be a damn sight better than the last one!

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