My experience of COVID and the coming storm of economic and societal unrest that is sure to follow 500k dead Americans in an election year has been akin to a nuclear bomb going off in the distance, and watching everyone look up, shrug, and then go back to what they were doing before.
It maddening, as in I literally feel like I'm going a little crazy. I watch the news only a couple times a week, but when I do the panic rushes in as I realize anew that the US is rudderless, leaderless, and careening toward a totally catastrophic couple of years. By the end of the summer the list of countries Americans can't travel to will encompass virtually the entire globe, meaning America is figuratively and literally isolated.
I don't think most Americans understand how incredibly we're screwed. Not just for a few months, or even a few years, but possibly for decades, for generations. The damage Trump and the Republicans have done at nearly all levels of government (federal, state, local), and the complete obliteration of our international relationships will take years to repair. Biden, if he's elected and allowed to take power, will spend all of his term(s) just battling to keep the ship from sinking entirely. He will inherit an economy in tatters, hundred of thousands of dead Americans and millions more permanently disabled, and an international ecosystem completely bereft of leadership. Oh, and the US Treasury will be a dumpster fire since they gave away so much money to the largest, most well-funded corporations on the planet.
Whatever future we all thought was coming will never arrive. That is clear. History follows the path of least resistance and getting back to "normal" would be a political and economic nightmare.
But, don't let the bastards get you down. Don't let them lie to you and tell you there is no future, or that "going back to normal" is the only available future. Or that war and unrest and violence are the logical next steps. These are lies that are being used to divide us and divorce us from our true collective power. The future we thought we were getting is done, it's over...but that doesn't mean we can't build a better future together.
It starts, though, with recognizing that so much of our pre-COVID lives were spent in vain attempts to use money, celebrity, clout, and status as a supplement for the real, joyful things about living. Many of those things simply aren't attainable, or have been bleached of their fun, and a great many of them simply have disappeared forever. We would be forgiven for being sad and angry at some much of our lives going up in a puff of smoke practically overnight. We would be forgiven for feeling ripped off and victimized. We were. It didn't have to be this way, but our leaders chose the path of most destruction because they see benefit for themselves and their social class. We elected vain, out-of-touch, sociopathic leaders and they have treated us accordingly.
It didn't have to be this way, but it is, and the longer we spend pining for the world that was and will never be again, we're missing the chance to build a new, better world.
The school question is a perfect example. We are being told that we must choose between completely opening schools, virtual learning, or some hybrid of the two. But these are not our only choices, in fact they're easily the least creative choices available, and don't even really solve the core problems schooling is meant to solve. We need schooling for three key reasons:
Give parents a break so they can get their work done;
Provide kids with education;
Provide kids with socialization.
If we accept that keeping everyone safe is our number one concern in achieving these aims, then none of the 3 solutions being offered solve for all of these concerns. We're stuck between uncreative thinking and fake limits.
An alternative solution would be to have 1 teacher assigned to 10 students and place them in government buildings throughout the district, bus all the kids (or facilitate ride-shares) to their respective classrooms, and partner with UberEats or similar company to ensure every kid if fed at school. Would this be expensive? Of course it would, but it would better solve for the state objectives of schooling, and would maximally ensure the safety of every child. If you're worried about cost, you have to ask yourself why the richest society in the history of the world can't find the money to guarantee that thousands of kids don't get sick, disabled, or die?
The point is not that this is the best solution...I'm sure there are plenty of better solutions out there. The point is that we're not being flexible enough in our problem solving. We're not accepting that things have changed, maybe permanently, and that the best path forward in many cases is a brand new one. Rather than trying to shoehorn our society into a past that no longer fits, we need to be working on flexible, scalable solutions that can be tailored to the individual needs of communities, and creates a loving, safe, and equitable environment for all Americans, not just those that can pay the right price.
The future is going to be rough, but we can be build a better one if we work within our communities to find fair and serviceable solutions for all.