IF ONLY

So, things are starting to open up. Here in Ohio, today it’s offices and manufacturing/distribution. May 12 it’s retail. No haircuts or gyms or golf or nail salons yet. Of course, no restaurants. But soon, they tell us. Soon.

But when they open, the world won’t be like it was. Ever. We think we can go back to “normal.” But despite all of the protestors brandishing guns and screaming for their right to go out and about, go back to work without masks (don’t force us to do anything), the world as it was just two and a half months ago will never return. Oh, yes, there may be a vaccine, but that is so far into the future that we can’t speculate when that will happen. Herd immunity? Good luck with that–I am not willing to risk getting sick or dying in order for that to happen.

So the anxious ones among us, the careful and measured ones, will wear masks when we go out. We’ll keep our distance, parch our hands with sanitizer, clean our doorknobs, and forego hobnobbing for months, maybe longer.

Zoom gives us the opportunity to see one another, to chat and play long distance games. Thank God for that. But something will be missing. We won’t have hugs. Smiles will be obscured by masks. Many of us will remain anxious, isolated, and lost. Was this the planet’s way to reset? Mother Nature punishing us for our rampant sins against our environment?

What will we learn? I am afraid the answer is nothing. I see the news of people, mask-less, crowding parks, stores, and walkways. I still hear versions of “it’s just the flu.” We are an ignorant bunch, we humans. We insist on continuing to act as conquerors, boldly asserting ourselves into every nook and cranny of the globe, arrogant and heedless of the damage we wreak. So many of us will die. Perhaps at some point, the coronavirus will creep away. But there will be other pandemics.

Have we crossed the line? Will there be no turning back?

The world has changed so fast that many of us still live in the reality of that old normal. It hasn’t sunk in yet. We cling desperately to the belief that soon, “this will all be behind us.” What will happen when we finally understand the fact that it won’t?

 

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