As we reflect on the unprecedented events of 2020, President Bill Clinton believes there is reason for hope
Every year since leaving the White House, I’ve put together a collection of speeches I’ve given and other pieces I’ve written. I do it not just to share what I’ve been up to for those 12 months, but to capture some of the most interesting and consequential events, trends, and forces shaping all our lives at that particular moment in time.
This year’s collection is different than any I’ve done before—because 2020 has been different than any year we’ve ever lived through. America and the world have experienced a pandemic, an economic crisis, a long overdue reckoning with racism, climate-related disasters including the most active hurricane season on record and raging wildfires, and a complete upheaval in the ways we live, learn, work, and interact with one another.
More than any year of my lifetime, 2020 has been a powerful reminder that we are all connected. Our decisions affect ourselves and all those around us, including people we may never know or meet. It has also revealed, even more starkly, how much we need to know each better, and how much we have to learn.
That’s why, for the first time, this is not just a compilation of my own speeches, but a collection of reflections from people who have been on the front lines of the many different challenges we’ve confronted this year. In their own words, they share the tragedies and triumphs of 2020. More than anything, they remind us that we need each other more than ever; that we all do better when we work together; and that our common humanity is far more important than our interesting differences.
This has been a hard year for everyone, but we should feel good about the fact that we’ve seen so many people rise to the moment to offer hope and a helping hand to those in need, through acts of kindness big and small. You will read many of those stories in the pages that follow. These examples are why, despite all the challenges we face, I’m still hopeful. The crises of the present moment give us a chance to reimagine what our future should actually look like—our societies, our economies, and how we relate to one another.
So as 2020 comes to a close, keep your spirits high and keep going. If we can hold the lessons of this year close to our hearts—and harness the extraordinary commitment, resilience, and compassion we’ve witnessed—our future will be brighter than ever.