by Joe Courter
We seem to be emerging into a brighter future. The masking and distancing practices we at first felt awkward about became accepted, and now with the vaccines becoming widely available, we can start loosening up a bit, and get a sense of normalcy returning.
Careful living vaccinated people can finally see each other’s faces and even share some well appreciated hugs. Those practices worked, as made obvious by the incredibly low flu rates during the same period. Looking forward we need to hope that our reopening won’t be compromised by the self-centered among us who won’t accept the science or the ethic of cooperation and enable the virus to continue to mutate and spread.
The virus will be a change agent in many ways as we move forward, even as its direct impact lessens. Many of us have adopted new interests and practices. How we do our jobs for many will stay changed. Perhaps, as was already the practice in much of Asia, we will still put a mask on when out in public when we know we are sick but still need to be out to the store, work, or wherever. We can see improvement is needed in global empathy with the vaccine roll out; more and more the recognition of one shared planet needs to be internalized.
Looking forward, we have greater issues coming down the tracks to challenge us and affect our lives. One of the greatest will be the long-range problem of climate change and how we deal with its impact. Our efforts may slow it somewhat, but it is happening, whether denied or not. It will require changes to how we live, and we can hope efforts will take place to help those who will be profoundly affected by where they live. It is a world problem, which will cause destabilization and migrations, and it cries out for the sharing of technologies.
But the other big problem we face is here right now: how to deal with and resist the rise of authoritarian governments enabled by populations easily swayed by false information disseminated by social media platforms with no regard for truth.
We can thank the virus for exposing in country after country authoritarian governments who lied about steps needed to be taken to thwart the virus and who are now suffering the consequences. Those leaders still have their powerful cyber-pulpits, but as the bodies pile up, resistance will grow. And we can expect to see repression in response as well.
And what about here in the U.S.?
The authoritarian madness of Trump is not over as we see many state legislatures passing laws to restrict voting, speaking of which: when the hell did having long lines become at all acceptable? Long lines themselves are voter suppression! But looking forward, what will we see if the Trumpians take over the Republican party? Will enough nominal R’s defect and the party split to a third party? What would a dominant Trumpian Congress do next?
This trans athlete fear-mongering thing, horrid as it is, is just a start, as noted in the journal Jewish Currents on April 27. “Liberals have tended to see these bills as promoting a straightforward form of irrational discrimination toward trans youth that flouts the expert opinion of major medical organizations. Some more astute critics, meanwhile, have contended that the bills are in a sense not really about trans people at all, but are instead a cruel, though also somewhat arbitrary, effort to raise funds and appeal to the evangelical base of the Republican party in the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections.” (See the full article link in the Editors’ Picks on pg. 9.)
Looking forward, there must be major organizing to encourage a strong civic consciousness, unify amidst our differences, and increase voter turnout. We must understand we are up against an organized effort to turn back the clock on progress we have made in civil and human rights, and in understanding our history and systemic injustice. We can’t wait until our personal issue gets taken away, be it gay marriage, legal weed, public education, or whatever. We can already see where they are going and they need to be derailed. That brighter future we want will have some stormy weather ahead, and we can’t shirk from the task.