I’m back with more miscellaneous musings about the current COVID-19 pandemic. If for some reason you want to read more thoughts from a guy on the internet, check out my previous two entries: Welcome to History and What I’ve Learned About Myself.
First, a quick update on my life. I’m back at work, in the office, full-time. Without going too much into it, none of us would be here if we had the choice, but we were obligated to return to work (unless you are a high-risk individual). Goodbye work-from-home life. Hello pandemic-office-life.
I am of the mindset that, at some point, we have to accept a certain amount of risk in our lives and find a new normal. We can’t wait for zero cases or a vaccine. I get that. But I don’t think it’s appropriate for my city to be returning to work yet, especially when our cases are still going up. But what do I know? Honestly, I don’t even know what I know.
My frustration (and I imagine the frustration of others) comes from a lack of transparency in decision making. Why did our leaders pick now to reopen? I want to believe it’s because we can handle an influx of new cases in our hospitals and we have significant testing available. But the haphazard roll-out and minimal communication feels more like “We value the economy over people’s well-being.”
I don’t want to turn this into a giant rant. The reality is we are reopening and that’s life. You play the hand you are dealt. So what does this hand look like?
I’ve continued to think more and more about the future. It seems everyday brings another doom and gloom scenario. New things to worry about: Food shortages, overcrowded hospitals for non-COVID-19 cases, murder hornets (are you kidding me?), airlines going under, auto-makers going under, entertainment giants going under. I mean, where does it end?
What I continue to think about is how this pandemic has exposed the faults in our capitalist society. I’m not anti-capitalism, but it’s hard to argue that it is well-suited for dealing with our current problem. A more socialist society would provide greater safety nets for the least well off and dampen the blow. Capitalism seems like a high-risk/high-reward system of government and we got unlucky and rolled snake eyes.
No one should ever have to choose between their health and their job, but that’s what we’ve done twice over. You need a job to have health insurance and now you need to risk your health just to go to your job. It’s so very sad.
My last post on this topic was much more upbeat. Why? Because I was lucky enough to be at home, be safe, keep my job, and get paid. Except that shouldn’t be a “lucky” situation during a global pandemic. It should be what everyone gets. Hell, forget about personal well-being. If everyone could just stay home and chill for a few weeks, the problem would be over.
I realize I am oversimplifying a complicated problem. There are jobs that need to get done that require humans to go to work. I get it. But there also exists a culture unwilling to change with the times and much too beholden to money. We are truly seeing the value of a human life. It’s not as valuable as we thought.
What is the rest of the year going to look like? Probably boring. It will feel like a lost year. And if that means everyone I care about is safe, then I am happy to accept that.
But what if the economy doesn’t ramp back up? We already have shattered our unemployment record and even more people will lose jobs. If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do is go out and stimulate the economy. So what do we do?
Stay home and be safe, they say. But also go to work. But don’t hang out with your family and friends. But make sure to spend money. It’s safe to go outside. But don’t get close to anyone. And don’t touch your face. Don’t panic. But also if you don’t go to work your entire way of life will come crumbling down. It’s frustrating and exhausting.
Anyways, the future. We’re having a child this Fall. What sort of life will it have? Can people I love hold the child? What will the world look like when it grows up?
“I tell yah kid, back in my day, we would gather in crowds of thousands! And when you saw someone you knew, you would shake their hand! I know, touching another human sounds crazy, but we were naive.”
If I’m being serious, I imagine life will go back to mostly normal once we have a vaccine. Everyday, the vaccine timeline sounds more promising. Some industries will collapse. Lots of people will lose their jobs. But the economy will come back, even if it takes years. We will find a new normalcy. That’s life. That’s how it works.
The most depressing part is that it came to this. Instead of listening to scientific experts and making rational decisions, COVID-19 became a political ballgame. Our leaders failed us. Times of great struggle often bring people together. It doesn’t feel like that yet. I want to believe that it will, once this is all over. That we’ll be able to put aside our differences and respect one another again. Because if this pandemic isn’t enough to unite us, then what is?