You no longer have to turn to the obituaries to see who died. It’s on the front page. And they should rename Google, The Google Obituaries. They’ve got the up to the minute death count. Meanwhile, the whole town feels like a morgue. Frightened faces, sullen eyes, oh so sad and scared. My wife has a technique for making zip lock bags airtight for storing food. She sticks a straw in the end and sucks the air out. That’s what happened to Lake County. They stuck a straw in and sucked all the joy out. I sure hope it’s all worth it when we wake up in a couple of months to find what’s left of our county.
They keep comparing this to World War II. This is worse than World War II. Much worse. Not because of how many people have died or will die. But because during World War II at least we had heroic, upbeat movies and Hollywood musicals to lift our spirits and brighten our day. Now all you see are apocalyptic projections of a world doomed, a gloomy future. And that’s if you were able to go to the theatre
I hear stories about how this is bringing people together and there are some instances of that like people sewing masks at home to donate to those who need it. But I also see a lot of polarization. People arguing about what should be done and whether the closures and stay at home orders are necessary. Americans lining up on both sides of the fence. Some blaming the president, others praising him. Democrats and Republicans, blue states and red states, Fox versus CNN and so on and so forth. At least after 9-11 we seemed united if only for a short time but nonetheless united. We need to remember that we are Americans and we share that with each other.
Another thing that’s going on is this push to put everything online. Is that the world we want, the absence of human contact? Just our machines? I’m sure Alexa, Bixby and the other AI personal assistants are happy. They get to hang out with us, and we don’t have to practice social distancing. Stay six feet away from everyone, don’t shake hands, don’t kiss your spouse, don’t hug your children, don’t visit Grandma.
Of course, I realize that we’re trying to protect people, but I worry about a new norm emerging. If this is the new world order, I’m not so sure I’m singing up. We went through 2001 together and all the events that followed and the way it permanently changed our lives in terms of travel, in how we view the rest of the world and in terms of the freedoms we conceded in the interest of “national security.” We surrendered our precious personal privacy and never got it back.
What troubles me is that the coronavirus, like the threatened weapons of mass destruction legitimized an unprecedented top down seizure of our rights. I’m not prepared to do that. As we surrender our freedom of assembly for a greater good, let’s take care to be sure we get it back and that some of the decisions being made today in our general interest do not become the new norm for if that were the case, we surely will have lost this war.