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Reflections on 2020

What is there to say about this almost finished year? It’s been different to put it mildly, but what insight can I offer? Yesterday, I got inspiration from an old friend, Ralph Wood, a religion professor at Baylor University. Ralph taught me when I was a callous young freshman at Wake Forest University 46 years ago. We have remained good friends ever since. His Christmas letter had this quote from St. Augustine:

The times are bad! The times are troublesome! This is what men say. But we are our times. Let us live well and our times will be good. Such as we are, such are our times.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the wisdom of someone who died almost 1600 years ago can still inform us. Our modern age is not always so wise as we assume, but that is another topic. Augustine lived in difficult times, facing problems that are essentially unfathomable to us. What he was saying then and telling us now is that we must exercise what control we have over our lives. We cannot succumb to despair, the sense that things can only get worse. We must “live well.” Indeed, we must live righteously, with hope. Ralph would likely cringe at my exegesis, but I am a lawyer, not a theologian.

For many this year has been very hard. The direct impact of Covid is huge. The deaths, serious illness and their ripple effects have touched almost everyone, some tangentially, others directly and catastrophically. While uneven, the economic consequences for many have been devastating. My firm and my family have been spared from the disease, so far, and we have weathered the economic effects fairly well. Not everyone has been so blessed.

As we go into this next year, let’s all try to “live well.” Have hope. Do not despair. Take care of your families, your colleagues and your clients. Show kindness. Help those less fortunate. Such as we are, such are our times.


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