The Russian invasion of Ukraine and how far Putin is going to push it – what a tragedy!
Our upcoming trip to Europe: I just booked a cruise with an extension in eastern Europe. We start with five days in Poland, then get the cruise in Prague and sail to Berlin. I hope the War of Russian Aggression or a new variant of Covid-19 doesn’t interfere with our trip, which starts in April. I REALLY need to travel right now!
The environment/climate change. This is always on my mind. Also, getting a blurb to put in our weekly newsletter from the Environmental Concerns Committee, of which I seem to be chair.
The book I am currently reading, Braiding Sweetgrass – excellent! I’ve been taking notes!
Whether Republicans are going to retake the House and/or Senate in the upcoming midterm elections. They are projected to win because that’s the tradition in midterms, but does it have to be? The Dems need to do something to improve their messaging! More GOP control will be a disaster, especially with the kooks that run the party now!
Whether I have time to accomplish everything I want to accomplish this week.
Every week Fandango’s hosts a challenge, for those who choose to accept it, called Who Won The Week? It is the opportunity that fellow bloggers have to highlight someone in the news (good or bad) that takes the ‘prize’ for that week.
Meanwhile, many conservative states have passed or are considering legislation to restrict voting turnout and have either fired or threatened state election officials, who have been besieged by threatening phone calls and messages (some have received death threats, including local election officials who are Republicans and Trump supporters) and many of these officials are being primaried by more loyal Trump supporters who would go along with falsifying results of future elections if Republicans lose in their districts.
If Trump’s supporters follow his directive – and there is little reason to think they won’t – it may not be difficult for Democrats to maintain and even increase their Congressional majority. That would be good for the Biden administration, who currently must curry favor with two conservative Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kristin Sinema, who seem to currently have the power to shape Biden’s “Build Back Better” comprehensive reconciliation infrastructure bill.
I don’t have high hopes that all Trump supporters will not vote in the midterm elections, but Trump has only one concern: himself. His fans still don’t get that he has no interest in improving their lives or helping the country; he only cares about himself, as a true narcissist. Even so, I like to think right now that maybe electing Democrats isn’t a lost cause after all, and for that reason, Trump gets my vote for the person who “won” the week.
Fandango has an interesting and relevant question for us this week; in fact, the issue has been on my mind the last several days. Fandango prefaces the question as follows:
It seems to me that there are a lot of things to worry about these days. Whether we’re talking about the climate, politics, the seemingly never ending pandemic, natural disasters, social injustice, mass shootings, cultural clashes, or wars, the news is rarely good. I have almost gotten to the point that I’m considering stopping reading or watching the news because I find it both disheartening and depressing.
So with this in mind, my provocative question this week is this…
What worries you the most about the future? Why is that your biggest concern? Or are you not that concerned about the future?
Last week, I was on the verge of tears, watching a news piece about voting restriction laws that are being passed in various states around the country. If these laws are allowed to take effect, the Republicans in Texas, Georgia, and elsewhere will be able to overturn election results that they don’t like, by removing election officials and installing others of their choosing. This has come about as the “Big Lie” has not been allowed to die – there are still Trumpian politicians who have convinced a large minority of people that the Democrats corrupted the election and that Trump, in fact, had won, not Joe Biden. I believe these politicians are fully aware that there was no fraud and that Biden is the legitimate president, but they continue to fuel this lie for their own interests. It occurred to me, as I watched Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, that if they get away with it, they will destroy what is left of our democracy. The Republicans, under these laws, will have the advantage over the majority, and will control the election results, in their favor. They know they cannot win elections unless they cheat – the victory of the Democrats in the 2020 election and the special Senate election in Georgia, in which two Democrats ran close races against Republican challengers, and won, flipping Georgia – always a Republican stronghold – to “blue.” The Georgia GOP has its greedy eyes on Fulton County, where Atlanta is located, and has already removed its top election official. It is really scary.
Then this week, climate scientists put out a report on the status of climate change: it is no longer a threat, it is a reality now. A 4,000 page report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes work by 234 authors who are experts in climate science, and roughly 14,000 citations to existing scientific studies, is the most comprehensive look at climate change and unequivocal in its pronouncements. The Washington Post, on August 10, published a review of this report. The Post cited five major quotes from the report:
‘It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.‘
‘The last decade was more likely than not warmer than any multi-centennial period after the Last Interglacial, roughly 125,000 years ago.‘
‘Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.’
‘With further global warming, every region is projected to increasingly experience concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers.’
‘Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.’
Although the Biden administration has pledged to finally do something to mitigate climate change, and the Democrats’ large infrastructure bill includes attention to climate change especially in the manufacture of electric cars, it will unlikely be enough. Other countries have also pledged to make drastic modifications to their energy infrastructures, but so far, there has been way too little change. I understand – industries are reluctant to make the kind of changes that they fear will impact their bottom line, especially since the investment in making the changes will have to be done long before measurable results (as well as their profits) will equal these efforts. And U.S. politics have always focused on short-term (about the length of politicians’ time in office) fixes for short-term results. To really make the kind of changes that will lead to meaningful benefits to society at large, politicians need to become far more altruistic in their vision for the future.
It’s time to stop finger-pointing at other countries (such as China and Russia) who are big polluters but have not committed to major changes. We need to get to work on this “yesterday, if not sooner” (as a former boss of mine liked to say) and encourage others to follow us.
What more real-life proof do we need that the situation is dire than massive out-of-control fires burning in so many areas of the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere? Half of one of the largest islands of Greece, Evia, a major tourist destination, is being decimated by wildfires. Even the Big Island of Hawaii is combatting fires. What about the “heat domes” that have settled for weeks over places that have never dealt with such hot temperatures? Portland, Oregon, reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit, and even Death Valley is hotter than ever, with reported temperatures of 134 F! Two years ago, people died from the heat in Paris, France, which saw unprecedented temperatures of 109 deg. F, in a country where few residents have ever felt the need to invest in air conditioning their homes.
In its conclusion the, WP article says, Even if current emissions pledges are realized, they would amount to just a 1 percent reduction in global emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. Scientists say the number needs to be closer to a 50 percent reduction.
What can we do RIGHT NOW?
We already have the technology to hook residences and businesses up to energy created by wind farms. I have received phone calls offering a great deal on putting solar panels on the roof of my home and switching my residence to 100% solar & wind power. If this kinds of things are being done already on a small scale, why not expand it to include entire cities, states, and yes, even whole countries?
2. Many businesses are realizing that the switch to green power is in the near future, and are getting on board. They have understood that they will not lose all their profit from fossil fuels, because there is plenty of money to be made embracing the new energy technologies. And LOTS OF JOBS will be created! Committing to green energy can vitalize the entire economy! That’s what the much-criticized “Green New Deal” is about.
3. Yesterday, on BBC World News on the radio, there was a discussion regarding methane, the second largest cause of global warming. The first thing that comes to mind when I heard the word ‘methane’ is cows. Cows and pigs. Their farts and manure are culprits, made worse by feeding the cows a diet mostly comprised of corn, which is not in the bovine’s natural diet and which its gut has a hard time processing. Waste in landfills also emits a great deal of methane. The BBC report indicated that methane is a more short-term problem that can be dealt with. While CO2 emissions are, of course, vital to deal with, the ways to lower methane can show more short-term results which would benefit not only the planet as a whole, but also humans in every sector. (It sure would smell a lot nicer too!)
I looked up the BBC report online and found it, referencing more findings in the IPCC report. “An aggressive campaign to cut methane emissions can buy the world extra time to tackle climate change, experts say.” The BBC online article goes on to make the following points.
“One of the key findings in the newly released IPCC report is that emissions of methane have made a huge contribution to current warming.
The study suggested that 30-50% of the current rise in temperatures is down to this powerful, but short-lived gas.
Major sources of methane include agriculture, and leaks from oil and gas production and landfills.”
One of President Biden’s goals is to totally convert our automobile industry to electric power by 2035. But we don’t have that long to wait for many major changes to be made. Like Greta Thunberg, I am depressed that there may not be the human will to think long-term. Yet this planet is the only home that humans and other organisms have!
Now that the holidays and last year are over, are you filled with a renewed sense of hope at the coming year, or something else? Please explain.
As I write this, I have the TV on next to my computer desk, following the nail-biting election returns from Georgia. One of the Democrats is ahead and the other is very closely behind his Republican rival. If both Democrats win, the Democrats will have control of the Senate, with an exact 50/50 split – and future VP Kamala Harris will break the tie vote along party lines. That will given Biden a better chance at being able to move ahead with his agenda.
That said, both houses of Congress are barely in the hands of one party or the other. This says a lot about the state of our country these days, with two halves of the population who are completely polarized. It is unknown how much hold Trump will continue to have on the Republican Party after he leaves office, but there is bound to be a lot of political and social strife in the next few years and our democracy may continue to erode – but it’s not too late to save it.
So, I am cautiously optimistic about 2021. I feel that at least there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a ways to go to get to the end of that tunnel. The pandemic is still with it and probably will be for several more months. BUT we will have sanity in the White House, a president with a lot of experience and respected here and abroad, AND the vaccines are coming – they are not being distributed as efficiently as they should be and hospitals have not gotten the number of vaccination doses they were promised, but even so, there are reasons to be hopeful. I am not optimistic about the American political scene, whether both Georgian Democrats get to the Senate or not, but at least we can relax a little knowing that President Biden won’t continue to destroy the environment and gut government agencies such as the EPA.
I don’t expect to be able to travel much this year, although we are hoping to take a road trip in the autumn, perhaps to the Northeast to admire the fall colors.
Meanwhile, we keep on keeping on, wearing our masks and not going to crowded places. We are blessed to have a nice place to live on a beautiful campus, our meals are delivered to us every day, and we do have a chance to get together with some of our friends here at least occasionally. I am relieved the holidays are over so we can get back to our new normal, having Zoom meetings regularly with family and friends, pursuing our interests and having plenty of things to keep us occupied. It is disheartening knowing we will have to stay in this enforced semi-isolation for many more months, but at least now we are used to it, and health care professionals know a lot better how to deal with the virus.
I look forward to reading 40+ books this year, painting a watercolor masterpiece, finishing a couple of photo books, and working on my several writing projects.
Have the results of the US Presidential election left you feeling relieved, apprehensive, hopeful, or some other emotion? Relieved, definitely relieved, and hopeful that our country gets back on track. I am apprehensive at what Trump and his GOP lackeys will do in the next 70 days, and also very wishful for the Georgia Senate election in January. If Democrats win both those seats, they will gain control of the Senate. It’s a long shot, but I have already made a larger than usual donation to Jon Ossof’s campaign, and I will do the same for the Democrat in the other race, Warnock. If the Republicans retain control of the Senate, we will have to put up with Moscow Mitch calling the shots, getting nothing done, and Biden will have to issue an awful lot of executives orders!
Have you been surprised at all by the emotions and reactions of others regarding the results? No, I have been very happy and sympathetic at the outpouring of joy, released emotional reactions when the election was called for Biden-Harris, after a week of tense anticipation. I loved seeing people dancing in the streets in various cities and also some pretty awesome percussion bands!!
On Sunday, we were out doing some errands and ended up passing (3 times!) an intersection in Schaumburg filled with Trump supporters on all four corners of Golf and Meacham Roads. I was surprised at how many people driving by honked their horns in support of the Trumpies’ “cause” – calling voter fraud and believing Trump’s lies and not accepting that he lost.
I remember in 2016, and ever since, Republicans have been saying that Trump has been “harassed” by opponents, who – they claim – have never been able to accept the outcome of the 2016 election. Trump’s Republican Party hides behind this excuse in order to not accept what the other side is claiming about Trump – mainly that he is unfit to be president, he is dangerous, he is a narcissistic bigot (Lindsay’s Graham’s words before Trump got the nomination), and criticizing all the damage he has done. They cannot accept the truth about Trump and his family, regardless of all the glaring evidence, even in the midst of a pandemic that he has bungled so badly. So I find it ironic that his supporters are now showing that they don’t accept the outcome of this election!
When we drove past the Schaumburg protest the first two times, I tried to counterbalance the honking by booing, sticking my hands out the window with thumbs down and yelling, “HE LOST! HE LOST!” Unfortunately, the horns drowned me out. The third time we passed, I simply ignored them.
Frank, PC Guy, in his own answer, expressed surprise that so many Biden supporters are still apprehensive and worried. I understand how they feel. We don’t know how Trump is going to spend the next 70 days pushing back on the results. So far he has started several lawsuits and ordered recounts in at least two states. He wants the Supreme Court, with his new conservative appointee, to rule on the legitimacy of the election. He is a very insecure and mentally sick person – accepting defeat is not in his DNA. Also, the close outcome of the election shows how divided our society is. How will this play out in the next few years? So yes, there is good reason to worry.
Do you like or dislike surprises? Why or why not? It depends on what kind of surprise it is. If it’s a Christmas or birthday gift, yes, I like surprises. I like the surprise of my husband getting me flowers for Mother’s Day.
Some surprises are not fun, though…the 2016 election, for example, was a very nasty surprise – and more so because we were on an airplane during the election returns, and heard the news of Trump’s victory from a fellow passenger when we landed in São Paulo – it kind of put a damper on our vacation. Another “surprise” might be finding out that my mammogram showed a mass, or to test positive for Covid-19. Those kinds of surprises I DON’T like!
What’s your favorite zoo animal? This is a hard one for me…a few years ago I wrote a post about zoochosis, which is used to describe animals’ repetitive behaviors in captivity. For example, a leopard or a cheetah that repetitively paces the perimeter of its enclosure is suffering from zoochosis, meaning it is bored and frustrated with being cooped up. Zoos are much better these days about giving animals space and observing the animals for such behaviors, a sign that they are not healthy and intervention is needed.
In other words, my “favorite” zoo animal (animal in captivity) is difficult to name. After going on a safari in Tanzania in 2018, I resolved not to ever go to a zoo again. Of course, I’ve gotten over it and have been to zoos a few times since then.
I like the big animals, especially the big cats (or small wild cats), giraffes, and elephants. However, I prefer to see them in their native environment. Often when I’m at the zoo, these animals are asleep. When we went to the San Diego Zoo in 2017, I wanted to see the koalas, because the Chicago zoos don’t have koalas, or at least you can’t see them close up. At the San Diego Zoo, there’s a platform so you can see the koalas right in front of you while they are up in a eucalyptus tree – that is, in fact, where they spend most of their time. Seeing them close up was quite a treat! I also like to watch the monkeys – they don’t seem to be bothered with their artificial environment and it’s fun to observe their antics!
What three things do you think of the most each day? What I’m going to do that day, what I’m going to eat that day, and what the weather is like – i.e. can I go out for a walk or read sitting on the porch? (I have such a hard life – can’t you tell?? ;-D )
Because of Covid-19, we select what we want to eat from a weekly menu and it gets delivered to our house, so I have to look at what I wrote down that I’m having for dinner that day. Knowing what I chose for dinner that day helps me decide what to eat for lunch.
Some days I just want to spend a lot of time reading, while other days I prefer to work on a photo book on Shutterfly or blog. Sometimes I’m in the mood for watching something on TV. I think a lot about being organized and putting my scheduled activities in my calendar because I often forget something and plan something else for the same time.
4. When, if ever, is taking a human life justified? In self-defense (when one’s life or loved one’s life is threatened) – this may seem broad, because some people consider “threatened” to be when someone walks on their lawn or comes up to their house and rings the doorbell. I do not think it is justified in such circumstances. In the last several months, police brutality toward Black people has been in the forefront of people’s minds, because of the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor, among others. These cops were not being threatened. They just abused their power and should be prosecuted.
Sometimes a person may feel threatened due to past circumstances, such as a woman whose husband has been abusive toward her or her children, and it is understandable (though not laudable) that she would seize an opportunity to kill him, even if he weren’t threatening her at that particular moment.
Also, it is somewhat justified to kill during wars, but not civilians and not even some wars which are completely unnecessary. World War II was a justified war with a clear enemy that invaded other nations’ sovereignty. During the Vietnam War, there were some incidents that the media brought our attention to, of massacres of civilians and burning their towns, such as the My Lai massacre. This is only one example of atrocities committed during wars, which are not justified under any circumstances.
If one considers abortion the “taking of a human life” – which is controversial – then I also think it is justified according to a woman’s particular circumstances, which range from being unable to raise the child or being afraid of losing her job, to extreme cases like rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger if the pregnancy continues. I am “pro-choice” because I think it is a private matter between a woman and her doctor, and I don’t presume to judge whatever situation she is going through. That said, I do not approve of abortion if the fetus is already viable – that is, can survive outside the womb, usually the late 2nd trimester or later, UNLESS it is a threat to the life of the mother. A fetus in the early stages of development does not feel anything yet so doesn’t suffer during the abortion. That said, really I don’t like abortion at all, at least not for myself. I could never have done it – I know I would have regretted it all my life if I had. When I got pregnant, I considered it as an option but my circumstances, while not ideal, were not dire, and I knew that I really wanted to have children. So I think it is a matter of choice.
Another controversial subject: the death penalty. I am totally against it. It is a barbaric custom that belongs to the past and I am ashamed that it is legal in my supposedly modern, civilized country.
Attitude of Gratitude Section (Always Optional)
Do small miracles exist? Yes, if one sees them as “miracles.” They are the unexpected joys that people feel blessed or grateful for. I like to watch nature shows on TV, and I find it miraculous how various species have adapted to their environment – like fish living in the deep ocean who can produce their own light. I feel awe toward the wonders of nature. We are so blessed to have this beautiful planet that provides us with such bounty. Let’s not ruin it!!!
Which meal is your favorite: breakfast, lunch, or dinner? It depends on what’s on the menu! But overall, I guess I would say breakfast. I don’t understand how people can get up and go to work without having breakfast, as I have heard from several people. This is why they call it breakfast – we are breaking the fast (not eating since the evening before). Without breakfast, I feel weak, tired, cold.
I like breakfast because I love eggs, prepared any style, and I also enjoy pancakes, waffles, blintzes, and crepes. If I’m alone, I might hard boil an egg and eat it warm with a piece of toast. Or I’ll have cereal with fruit, and I mix it with yogurt instead of milk. In general, breakfast is easy to prepare, so there is minimal cooking involved and it’s fast (another reason to call it breakfast! 😉 )
Who do you admire most in the world? People who can do things that I cannot do, and do them well. For example, doctors and nurses: it takes so many skills together to work in medicine. Also, good leaders – it’s hard to find a REALLY good leader in the world right now! I have always admired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I always tear up when I hear his speeches.
With the obvious restrictions in place, what do you regret not doing in the last year? Traveling – I wish we’d booked a trip for January or February, so we would have gotten to travel at least once in 2020! Now I have to wait until 2022 to go overseas – at least, that is how it stands now.
GRATITUDE SECTION: (Optional)
Feel free to share something you’re grateful for. I’m grateful that the election will be over this week. IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE IT ALREADY, PLEASE GET OUT AND VOTE!!
What’s the tallest building you’ve been to the top of? Sears Tower (now officially Willis Tower, but Chicagoans still call it Sears Tower) – 104 floors! I went up by elevator but my 78-year-old brother-in-law climbs the stairs to the top once a year! Amazing!
What do you do to keep fit? Not enough, especially now with Covid + cold weather. I try to walk every day or most days. I try to get to the fitness center as often as allowed (3 days a week, 1/2 hour a day) and usually choose the stationary bike. I’m starting a new fitness program from New Zealand (called “Otago”) tomorrow for “older adults” to help with balance and reduce risk of falling. It has several types of exercises to be done each day.
What’s your jack-o-lantern carved to look like? I haven’t carved one in several years, for three reasons: 1. I’m really lousy at this and usually just was able to carve a rudimentary face with triangular eyes and smiling mouth with a couple of teeth sticking out. 2. My son is grown and moved out, and I’m retired from teaching, so there’s no incentive to do it. My husband has no interest. 3. When I used to put jack-o-lanterns on my front porch, either the squirrels got them or kids who had a thing about “smashing pumpkins” (isn’t there even a rock group with that name?) would steal them and smash them in the street.
Do you have hope or have you lost it? Bad day to ask (Monday, although I posted this Tuesday) – it has been a very depressing day in the news. On days like this, my heart feels heavy and I feel completely hopeless. Normally, I am fairly positive about life. *The U.S. Supreme Court now has a conservative majority of 6-3 thanks to the hypocrisy of the Republican Senate who pushed through Trump’s ultra-right-wing nominee one week before the election, when people have already been voting early all over the country. The Supreme Court is so politicized now, it’s no longer functioning as a “check” on the other branches of government! *Cases will be coming before this Supreme Court within weeks that may possibly take us backward by making abortion illegal and repealing the best health care system we’ve ever had (ACA, also known as “Obamacare”) with nothing to replace it and people dying every day from coronavirus. *Another fallout from this is the increased possibility of an election decided by the Supreme Court in Trump’s favor. If the presidential election is close, if Biden wins by a small margin, Trump will surely intervene to contest the results. He’s been saying for weeks that the “Supreme Court will decide the election!” He’s polling at 43-45% nationally, way too high for comfort, in my opinion. If the Democrats don’t win a majority in the Senate, it won’t matter if Biden is elected president – they will block every legislation from the House and override the president’s veto on their (Republicans’) legislation. On the other hand, if the Dems take the Senate, they will play hardball with the GOP in the Senate and with Trump if he is (God forbid) reelected. There are several Senate races that are very close and it is possible the Democrats will win, but they also have to retain every seat they currently hold! *Today or yesterday Trump signed an executive order in which loyalty will be considered when deciding whether to hire applicants for federal government jobs. Disloyalty will be cause for dismissal. An official from some obscure government agency quit today because of this, and wrote a letter which was released to the press stating his reason for quitting. We are moving dangerously close to a dictatorship. *Then there’s the new spike in coronavirus cases, which seems to be happening everywhere, but in this country especially. Today it was announced officially that the Trump administration’s policy toward Covid-19 is to do nothing to stop or curb it, and just wait for a vaccine. Trump has been lying about that too, saying the vaccine will be available “in a matter of a few weeks.” He’s also saying “we’re turning the corner” when there are more cases than ever and some hospitals’ ICUs are filled to capacity. *Due to the spike in cases in our area, the governor has imposed new restrictions, including no more indoor dining at restaurants. This is sad for me because weekly lunches with friends have been my only chance to see them and I looked forward to it every week. I’m not saying the governor was wrong to do this, but it is hard especially now that the weather is getting colder. *It snowed today, earlier even than last year when we had snow on Halloween. It quickly melted, but I had to get out my winter coats, which turned out to have been mildewed during their storage in a bag at the top of my closet! Meteorologists are predicting lower than normal temperatures in the next couple of weeks, with a few days respite in between.
Feel free to share something you’re grateful for! Images and photos or poems, essays or free writing (stream of consciousness) pieces are all acceptable! AND you don’t have to do this part, it’s always optional! Two things! 1. Some former art teachers are forming an art class, mostly people from our art class that was discontinued last spring. It starts tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to it! 2. The fall colors have been very beautiful this year, much better than the last few years. Here are a few photos I have taken on our campus recently:
I learned a new word today: psephology, which means the study of elections, specifically “the quantitative analysis of elections and balloting.” It is a branch of political science. It is pronounced see-FAW-loh-gee. Used in a sentence, we might say Brian was a political science major with a specialization in psephology.
The etymology of this word is interesting: psephology comes from the Greek word psēphos, which means “pebble.” Pebbles were used by ancient Greeks in voting, so “psephologist” describes a person who does the work of analyzing elections. The word first came into known usage in 1952.
Similarly, the word for “ballot” derives from the Italian word balla, meaning “ball” because the Italians at one time placed balls in a container to cast votes.
Wise words from the late great John Lewis:
Compatriots of the USA, if you haven’t done so already, please VOTE!!
When we finally get through this COVID-19 pandemic at some point in the future, do you think the world is going to change from what is was like before anyone ever heard of coronavirus? Or will things quickly return to “business as usual”?
I am not sure about the world, but I will talk from the perspective of the United States. This is the most serious problem that requires everyone’s cooperation in our history. Both good and bad will result from it.
Like the period after 9/11, the U.S. will experience a shift that may be permanent. After 9/11, people became more fearful, and that permeated all aspects of society. That fear led to increased prejudice, which ultimately culminated in the election of Donald Trump.
What I think the pandemic will do is make it very clear the serious problems our country has – it will lay them bare as they never have been before. The silver lining of the pandemic is that Donald Trump will probably not be reelected. (Of course, I wish he would be deposed in a less destructive way. And I don’t take it for granted that he will lose, so everybody VOTE!!)
But more importantly, the deficiencies in our health care system and our economic inequality will be top priority of whoever takes office next year. We cannot ignore these things anymore. We’ve been discussing the notion of health care for all for decades. Past administrations looked the other way. When Clinton tried to make reforms, there was a backlash. While Obama did manage to pass the ACA (aka Obamacare), it ended up being watered down due to many compromises that had to be made with the Republicans. Since then, the goal of the Republicans is to repeal the ACA without anything to replace it. And that’s where we are now.
But when the crisis of this pandemic is over, ignoring the problems in our health care system will no longer be possible. The fact that we were not ready for the pandemic is partly shortsightedness of the federal government but also due to deficiencies of our health care system. Our hospitals and health care workers are being overworked and they lack basic equipment. Hospitals are filling to capacity while thousands of others aren’t able to get tested for COVID-19. When testing did become available, people were worried about how they would pay for it (and thanks to Katie Porter, it ended up being free). I think we will really have to examine the priority that health care should have over almost anything else.
Leadership and how we choose leaders may be another problem that we will look at more closely, and their readiness to handle any crisis. We generally choose leaders by charisma and showmanship, and part of the problem is that our choices are limited to two parties. And voting rates are low because many people don’t think their votes count – well, who can blame them when one candidate wins a majority of the popular vote by millions of votes, but the other candidate becomes president because of our weird “Electoral College.” And we end up with old white men instead of energetic, idealistic younger leaders. Whether this pandemic will end up galvanizing voters, I don’t know. I hope so.
Respect for scientists, belief in them – ignoring science has become a hallmark of conservative Republicans. The governors of some southern states refused to issue stay-home orders by mid-March because they had become used to ignoring and even ridiculing science, the facts. They worried more about the effect on the economy than saving lives. As I write this, three southern states (Florida, Georgia and Mississippi) are FINALLY today issuing stay-at-home orders and acting as though they had no idea the pandemic was this severe! Because it’s become the thing to do for “real” Republicans to thumb their noses at the experts.
I read an editorial in our local paper today, in which the author calls this pandemic time the age of “pathological individualism.” Individualism is fine, but people take it to extremes so that it really becomes selfishness. Individuals think they have a right to do whatever they want without regard for others. Perhaps that was what the governors who waited too long to implement “social distancing” in their states, were thinking. How can we just tell people to stay home? Don’t we have freedom of movement? What about their jobs? This is the United States of America!
What about us, as individual Americans? We will have sacrificed for the greater cause. In times of crisis, the majority of Americans set aside their petty differences and do what they can to help others. Why can’t we be that way all the time? And even now, there are some nasty, vindictive people who are harassing Asians as if these individuals in their community are somehow responsible for manufacturing the virus.
Inequality will be the biggest problem we will have to face, and inequality and racism are intertwined. We have always had inequality, but in recent years the divide between the haves and the have-nots has grown increasingly larger. There are greedy corporate CEOs who quibble over every dollar of taxes when they have millions or billions at one end of the population, and people who cannot obey stay-at-home orders because they have no home on the other. When an analysis of the sick and the dead is completed, what will it say about those who have money and good insurance and those that don’t? Will there be more deaths among the poor? These are questions whose answers are yet to be revealed.
My husband believes that our people will become less consumerist – many things will not have the value they’ve had in the past. People will be very well-acquainted with shortages, just as they were emerging from WWI and WWII. Family and friends will become even more precious, and the desire to express our feelings will be more acute.
I hope he is right, but I’m afraid consumerism is hard-wired in us by now. Perhaps at the end of this pandemic, when people have jobs again, they will go on a buying frenzy. They will be exhorted to do so by the government, in order to jump-start the economy. In the meantime, online buying and delivery services are and will continue to be more ubiquitous than ever.
There will be lots of analyses of the pandemic, from scientific articles about the behavior and characteristics of the virus itself to political critiques about the response to the pandemic – was it too little, too late? Was Trump’s lack of leadership a major factor in the out-of-control number of cases and deaths? In fact, Adam Schiff is already talking about setting up a commission, like the 9/11 Commission, to research, evaluate and synthesize the entire crisis once the pandemic is over. A very large tome with small print and thin paper will be released a couple of years from now for anyone in the public who has the time and inclination to actually read it. But its main points will be publicized and talked about.
Will this lead to dialogue to deal with the very serious problems threatening our democracy? Probably, among some people. But I’m sorry to say, I think most people will return to their former lives (if they still have jobs, that is) as much as they are able – the life they knew that was comfortable. Yet, we won’t be the same. What characteristic will linger when we are all free to roam the world again? After 9/11, it was fear. Post-pandemic, it might be pathological individualism. We’ve fought the good fight, we came out of it with a shaky economy but we can get back to where we were. And now we want our individual lives back.
(All photos except the last one were downloaded from Google Images. The last photo is my own – we found hand sanitizer at Walgreens!)