There Will Be Other Things to Talk About

The juxtaposition of bird songs and Springtime and a world besieged by covid-19.

The prospect of restricted movement not just until May, but maybe September, or a year from now. Without widespread testing and contact tracing and a vaccine, all our trips to the grocery store or back to work are second-guessed, calculated, risky and potentially harmful. But how risky? We need to know!

Will the sentiment be to return to church, sitting six feet apart and wearing masks? Sounds ridiculous to me. Or is cyber worship where we’re at for the foreseeable future?

How long can we behave like a nation of boorish old men and perennially rebellious two-year olds? It’s time to get our collective act together and stop playing games with peoples’ lives.

The logic is irrefutable– we start things up too quickly and we’ll be right back in the middle of the mess we’re only beginning to emerge from. The federal government has to grow a pair and do its part to relieve some of the anxiety over needing to work and put food on the table. Grassroots efforts are great and heartwarming, but more is needed.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the best way to handle this. Just emulate South Korea, or Massachusetts, and be done with it. And dispense with the concern over “Draconian” measures. I think people just like saying the word “Draconian.” In typical media-hype fashion, it’s an over-reaction and an unhelpful choice of words. There are no free societies when a lethal pandemic arrives in your own back yard. And front yard. And your kitchen and living room. Are we really willing to pay the price for staying “free?” Coronavirus isn’t Pearl Harbor, yet the same whole-hearted, unified response to the threat is called for.

It’s actually a starkly simple choice: either attack the virus with all the means we have at our disposal (or will have, hopefully), including seemingly oppressive and invasive measures like social distancing, testing, and contact tracing. OR we put our precious “rights” on a pedestal and watch as many more die unnecessarily and society shudders with the fallout anyway. All because we’re Americans and nobody or no microscopic thing is going to get the best of us? Or because a heartless slug really wants to get re-elected and keep “winning”?

What means more to us– flesh and blood people, or some ideal that has often looked good on paper? Perhaps we need a mindset shift from individual rights to societal responsibilities. Or obligations. Coronavirus is forcing us to decide.

As with other things, maybe there is a workable middle road. But this would mean having faith that those in positions of authority have a clear-headed, unbiased understanding of the way forward. I don’t think that’s possible at the moment, given the current toxic, partisan climate.

It sucks when you’re wondering who to trust.

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