They won’t let me stop writing plague diaries! After what felt like months without much movement beyond the usual bickering, we had a slew of changes announced yesterday. Among them: bars get to shut down an hour later every night, which is nice because the streets will be that much emptier for the drunk drivers. It’s utterly (*searches for an adjective to convey the proper level of emphasis without falsely indicating surprise) stomach-turning (that’ll do!) to note how important alcohol is to our society. In a global pandemic that has people clawing at each other’s faces in pursuit of the right way to react, the best way to limit the spread, the best balance between safety and freedom in order to minimize the death toll, every single step has been a (sometimes clumsy) dance of prioritization. When historians study us and want to know what we considered to be the most important elements of a healthy society, they will look at our response to COVID-19 and see that the fetters came off of public alcohol abuse more quickly than library access. Go team.
Masks/no masks, six feet/ten feet/no feet, I don’t much care. I mean, you see the (wobbly and hesitant, again) steps they’re taking to get us back on the right track, get us back to a semblance of life like it was back in February, and it of course it isn’t going to be good enough for some people. Especially the ones who insist that everyone in a mask is an idiot who will go gleefully to the gas chambers, which are being built as we speak, at a joint CDC-CNN compound on a plot of land in upstate New York, where AOC will serve your pre-shower coffee to keep you buzzing about fair trade beans while you wait your turn.
But for what I am guessing is a majority of us (yikes – assuming majorities is dangerous work), the loosening of restrictions is simply a welcome step. Something to be pleased about (don’t confuse that with celebratory), and a sign that we’re getting somewhere. Let’s take our time. I don’t have any particular interest in the idea of ripping off the Band-aid. Society is fickle, and to exercise some compassion and generosity in this situation means going slow enough that the people who are still really scared of this thing – whatever you may think of them or their reasons – don’t come completely apart. Not for the selfish reason that it would constitute a problem for the rest of us, but for a reason that we tend to have a very hard time recognizing as legitimate: because it’s kind. Being kind is enough of a reason to do anything.
It is interesting to note that the people who were the least resistant to the restricting of personal liberties are also the ones most resistant to the restoration of them. The people shouting “too soon!” “I’m not ready!” I guess it just goes to show that – whether there was any intended tyranny in the lockdowns and mask mandates or not – in any given population there is a significant number of social agoraphobics who are the most comfortable with the fewest options. Maybe that line at the gas chamber will be longer than I think.
So we’re getting there, slooooowly, and as election day grows nearer I think we can expect to be thoroughly dizzied by the ups and downs, the giving only to take back, then maybe given again, maybe not. But keep your ammo in the bunker for now. We haven’t woken up years later to find out that the virus is gone but the restrictions are not. For all the garment-rending we hear about how this has all been paving the way to an Orwellian future of dirty gray coveralls and electrodes on the nipples for public displays of general happiness, it’s just not happening. Wasn’t ever going to, but preppers gotta prep. I guess what it boils down to for me is this: Nobody reads 1984 and says “Oh yeah, that’s what I want.” Not the left, not the right, not the middle. Not the leaders, not the followers. It’s universally deplorable. Yet everyone seems to be able to point to how the other side is marching us straight there at a double-time. Have you read 1984? I mean yeah, that’s a world in which nobody wants to live. But it occurs to me that it’s also a world over which nobody would want to reign. Why we always think people are trying to get there is beyond me.
-A bar is just a booze library, Comrade Citizen!-