Today I saw a social media post about a group that will no longer be singing The Star Spangled Banner before their events. Their reasoning was the troubling slaver-owner history of Francis Scott Key and a problematic line referencing slavery in the third stanza of the poem (eventually set to song).

My first thought was, Yikes! This is going to make a LOT of people angry.

My second thought was meh...I'm not particularly fond of the song. It's hard to sing for most people. I also feel like it puts the focus on our flag (a piece of fabric) and nationalism rather than a tribute for the country, which I think I good national anthem should do. I'm more fond of America the Beautiful.

On one hand, I could hold that many people would have strong feelings about changing something they see as a sacred song of our country. But on the other hand, I know that The Star-Spangled Banner as our national anthem has only been a thing since 1931. Yes, that's a long time, but it's not 1776 long.

Honestly, choosing another song to represent my country and in this present day of reckoning with our nation's troubled origins and trying to create a new path forward for all is fine by me. I can adapt.

And it got me thinking about what an important skill adaptation is right now. And then I thought about how maybe I need to make it my 2020 Word.

There have been many a December where I came up with one word I hoped would define and encompass the coming year. It's supposed to be a word that is pulsating with promise and hope. Some years I have done better than others at choosing a moniker. 

This year, I didn't even try. December 2019, I was thinking about finishing up the school semester for my four homeschooled kiddos and looking ahead to tackling teaching a project-based class that would culminate in a trip to Greece as the trip leader, alongside of my high school senior daughter.

I didn't have time to think, let alone dream.

And I would say that 2020 completely shut down everything and made a mockery of most plans, hopes, and dreams. So maybe I just saved myself some angst?

But today I am going to live on the wild side and choose to adopt this word mid-year because I think is one that needs to be widely embraced by many. 


transitive verb
: to make fit (as for new use) often by modification

If there is anything we've had to learn to do in the time of COVID-19 is to adapt. And those who have been the most adept at adapting (see what I did there?) have had an easier go of it.

Those who are the most invested and married to the status quo have had the hardest time transitioning to this new way of life. 
Why do I have to wear this mask?
Is toilet paper my God-given right as an American?
What if I don't want to stand on this line of tape six feet apart from the next piece of tape?

But what people are really asking underneath is more weighty.
Why can't everything just go back to normal?
Why do I have to let this go too?
What if things are never the same again and I could lose all that I know and love?

I am not making light of the tremendous change we have seen in our country and the world over the last three-plus months. So many of us have lost sleep, gained/lost weight, felt depressed and anxious, had zero energy or too much energy and some have lost their health and even loved ones because of this pandemic. It's no joke and it's worldwide trauma. 

However, our response to this "new normal" or questioning of what will be a new normal says something about our own personal resilience. I think it's fair to say that some people possess more resilience than others. To me, resilience is a muscle that is built up from use. Childhood trauma, economic uncertainty, physical illness, isolation, and abandonment, are examples of many things that create resilience.

The people alive during the Great Depression and World War II were known for making do with what they had. We've all heard the stories of food rationing, turning factories into war-manufacturing, and getting creative with what was on hand. Many of us had grandparents who refused to throw out a perfectly good emptied butter tub and used them as their own free Tupperware. Collectively, they had to use that resilience muscle. 

They adapted. 

Thinking back to my education, I learned that mankind exists today because our ancestors adapted. They were able to make the physical, geographical and economic choices that allowed them and their descendants to survive. Those who didn't adapt did not survive.

Although COVID-19 is devastating and I believe is the epic challenge of my lifetime (so far), it is survivable. We are existing. Some are even thriving.  

What makes it even more challenging is that it has exposed the many cracks in our democracy and fractures in the American dream and experience. What many have assumed is "de rigor" for all is actually not. The wide gulf between equality for all has been put on display for all to see and those who have been pushing and hoping for change are done waiting.

So statues are being toppled. Protests are being held. Laws are being challenged. Old "heroes," names, and ways are being challenged and cast down. And some people want to change the face on our $20 bill and yes, even our national anthem.

And some people are angry and confused. They wonder. 
If this goes, what's next?
What if everything changes so much that I cannot cope?
I don't know what to do with this discomfort and turmoil so I will dig in my heels.

It's all too much. 

But we do not have the luxury of looking away or pulling covers over our collective heads. We have to embrace what is to get to what we want.

We must adapt. We must make democracy fit. We most modify.

These days I find that I actually don't know as much as I thought I did about my country of birth. I feel like I am learning about her true history and having to reframe her in a less flattering light. She is looking a bit haggard under these fluorescent lights, to be honest. 

But I still want to love her...wrinkles, age spots, and sordid backstory alike. And I do believe that the best of her people are varied, resilient, interdependent, and yes, able to adapt. Because we have done it over and over again in the four centuries plus we've been a nation.

Will it be easy? Heck no. Will it hurt like hell in the process? Undoubtedly. Will it be worth it? Unquestionably. 

America is more than a song. She is symphony of voices of every kind singing together. But, the song is not as important as every single one of us singing it together.

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