The Unraveling of Society

The wheels are coming off as we watch. Hang on; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The country is largely open for business again with varying degrees of restrictions against large gatherings and the almost universal requirement that people wear a facemask when out in public.

The statistics are showing a rapid increase of new infections as bars and restaurants reopen their doors and people start going out again. We are approaching record numbers of new cases in the states which eased restrictions the soonest.

We have been in a sort of lock-down now for 3 months and it is wearing on people. It was kind of nice at first – little traffic, everyone home, people walking more and riding bikes. The novelty has worn off though and people are getting frustrated and angry. Adding to this are countrywide protests in all major cities against police brutality, specifically the historically bad treatment of Black citizens at the hands of the police. Two Black men were killed by the police in recent weeks and it has breathed new life into the Black Lives Matter movement and the civil rights movement in general which has yet to see justice and equal treatment for all as the constitution purportedly guarantees.

The saddest part of this ugly reality we are living through is that it didn’t have to be this way. We are currently going through an unprecedented lack of competence and leadership in Washington. Without any guidance and little support from the current administration, states have been on their own trying to figure this out. Due to the absence of a leader there are no guiding standards or metrics or what have you to mount the proper effort required to fight this virus. The US, which has historically taken the lead in this sort of effort, has taken a back seat. As a result the US has the highest infection and mortality rate in the entire world. The only country close to us is one with a similarly incompetent leader, Brazil.

Largely due to apathy, partly due to a naive wish for change, America elected a TV personality to the office of president. His supporters claimed he would “drain the swamp” in Washington and restore America to its greatness.

What we have come to learn is that this president lies constantly. In fact, he most often perverts and destroys precisely the things he says he is fixing. He didn’t drain a swamp but rather created one. He hasn’t restored America’s greatness but systematically chipped away at its foundations. He’s just a con man who uses buzz phrases and outrageous antics to feed the base of his supporters. He is also way, way, way over his head. He is clearly the most idiotic excuse for a president the US has ever had. He has embarrassed us in front of the world and severed the trust and esteem other nations have traditionally had for America. How did this all happen? That’s another story.

We are now in uncharted waters on a rudderless ship with no one at the helm. The president has not only abandoned the fight against virus but has now declared war against any who oppose him. He has chided many governors for not using more force against protesters and even brought out the military in Washington DC to secure a photo op in front of a church. He built a fence around the White House to keep protesters out. He has created new enemies weekly throughout this crisis in concert with his plummeting approval ratings.

It sounds like a bad novel but the unfortunate reality is that this is the truth. It’s anybody’s guess as to what’s going to happen next. There’s a kook in the White House and an angry mob outside.

The Great Experiment

Here we are two months after the initial lockdown for this pandemic. Due to the absence of leadership in America we still don’t have a plan. Due to the absence of American leadership the world is without a plan. Some countries have done quite well in containing this virus and are well on the way to normal. New Zealand stands out as a shining example of how a country with a good and compassionate leader can pull together and contain this virus. America is the worst example of how a country with an idiot leader with no empathy can let this virus get out of control.

This did not have to happen. We had months to prepare and did next to nothing. By we, of course, I mean the US. We are still reacting to this crisis rather than setting a course of action. And now in the rush to put this in the rearview window the idiot is charging forward and stifling any and all resistance. The spineless Congress is paving the way.

So now the great experiment begins. Here in America large swaths of the country are pronouncing the pandemic over and opening for business with large crowds of unprotected sheep flocking to their favorite bars, beaches, churches, and boardwalks. We have no idea what will happen.

Medical experts have warned us of the dangers of reopening too soon. They have shown us how deadly this virus is. 90,000 Americans have died already and this is under strict lockdown. At the same time disbelievers and conspiracists have been steadily poisoning the discussion with their talks of hoax and false reporting of the actual death toll of this virus.

It’s a scary new day.

The Good Is Where You Look For It

Here we are two weeks later. This is life in a global pandemic. We used to think of this as the stuff of science fiction but the truth is even scarier than fiction.

The world has practically come to a standstill. Stay at home is the rule of the day. Soon infection numbers will be counted in the millions. Hoarding is becoming problematic and many basic essentials are hard to find – toilet paper, flour, yeast, pasta.

With all this bad news what sort of positive spin could anyone in their right mind put on this?

Air pollution is down dramatically all over the world. Satelite photos show cities usually invisible because of smog gleaming in the sun under pristine skies. The water is clearing up as well. Porpoises are being seen in Venice for the first time in 60 years as the city is devoid of tourists. If there ever was a winner in all of this it’s the planet.

It is amazing how much the world has changed in the last few weeks. It is even more amazing how resilient our earth is and how quickly it bounces back when we slow down our assault on it. I think this is the most profound thing of all.

The Day The World Changed

I left work a little early as my wife had a headache and was just plain shot. She works a mile south of me off Broadway and we carpool. I had brought in my jump drive to back up my work so I could sync my home computer and thus be able to work from home. I was in the process of copying files when she called.

That was March 12, 2020. We had our “All Hands” meeting the day before and spent a good part of it talking about possible ramifications of the COVID-19 virus being that we are a public institution and there are often hundreds of kids running around the atrium on any given weekday. I work at the state history museum. While the CEO expected us to close our doors at some point the COO was confident that it would never come to that. Little did I know when I left the office that Thursday that it would be the last time I would see my coworkers in-person for the foreseeable future.

The next day, Friday the 13th, was my day off. I was doing the usual thing of chilling in the sun room drinking coffee and surfing the internet while we watched the birds at the feeder. It was late morning when I had the inclination to check my phone. I’m not attached to it like some people and will often not even notice if someone calls or texts. I found my phone after some searching and there was no activity. As soon as I put it back down however it began to buzz. It was a text from one of my coworkers. They were closing down the museum and needed to get a notice on the website a.s.a.p..

to be continued…