Can We Build On Yesterday, Salvage Today—And Save Tomorrow?News at Home
The author of this piece writes half way through his 102ndyear, relying on his long and complicated Life as a research historian and a wartime (1941-46) Navy administrator. In reverse order his academic homes were Stanford, UGA, and Emory, and he has worked for the RAND Corporation and Southern Oregon College (now University). He has resided in seven different states.
There was life as it was lived in the United States before the Coronavirus; and as all know there is life after its arrival (from China—or wherever, it matters little). Our nation has been torn apart and not put together again. Lowly people, and the elevated ones as well, have been torn from “normalcy” and face uncertain futures.
There is a temptation to mentally visit a large city and imagine what's been affected. Go down the list: schools, bars and restaurants, entertainment of all kinds, transportation, retirement homes—everything is disrupted, Jobs have been lost, with everybody hoping it’s temporary.
In a great many cases an interviewer questioning a public authority is likely to find the answerer “uncertain” as to exactly what has happened. The superior who tried to tell him hardly knew the facts themself! Predicting an individual’s future—short or long range—is mighty hard. Let’s try with an old person, male or female.
So many Americans these days live on pensions. We anticipate their arrival on perhaps the first of the month, or thereabouts. Are they going to come now? Or, are they held up in court? Will a judge suddenly proclaim: “Let’s pack it in, boys; come back in a month.”
The place where we worked is still there, thank goodness. But, is that door locked in some special way? Is my key useless? Nobody’s coming in; we all got a card saying “Don’t be reporting for work until we notify you that we’re active again!
I need to go to the bank now and then. The time is now, but when I went to the familiar front door it had a notice pasted on it. The words said, essentially, “We are meeting to see where we stand, and will be letting you know pretty soon just what is likely to happen.”
My drugstore’s pharmacy was open, thank goodness, and I got the product I wanted, but the conversation was not of a kind I would like to get regularly. Predictions about a “vaccine” that will combat this world virus situation and bring real relief are not being made—even on the internet, people are hesitant to predict improvement.
I watch television a lot these days. My favorite commentators are announcing and explaining. Good. But they just don’t seem to know as much as they (and I) would like! I listened to the Governor of New York State and he was really lucid, detailed, and calm. But the things he was saying were, well, horrible. Schools closed; maybe curfews ahead; teaching school on television channels. Can we really do all that?
There’s wild talk out there. “Let’s just abolish the coming 2020 Elections.” Let’s not! We did abandon basketball and other events that draw crowds. Even the Masters golf! Cultural events are suffering. People are staying home. In a way, that sounds terrible. I guess looking another way, there are worse places to be than one’s home—especially when the whole World’s exploding around you….
I’m sitting quietly in my living room as I write. I’m trying to imagine, to visualize, to predict: yes, I’m trying to envision a life like the one I had from birth ‘til now being lived so very differently…. It is really hard. I am trying to imagine life being lived in a place so very different from the United States I (we) had. Everything was working, it seemed. Things were “on time.” Products were available. Services could be gotten for the asking.
Now: well, let’s just skip “now” for now. It won’t be like today in a couple of days, will it? Change is the way things are going to be. On the other hand: we haven’t had a war. Earthquake’s upheavals. Tornado or hurricane’s eradication of the whole landscape. Our cruise ship didn’t sink. (And we didn’t get locked up outside one of our finest ports, unable to swim the miles to an invisible shore.)
Some in authority speak of living two weeks down the line. (Sadly, others talk of “next summer.”) I have heard the phrase: “Things will never be the same, will they?” Then I glance at my investments and groan. There seems to be nothing else I can do (except maybe pray).
Still and all: I and mine are alive and well. There’s been no fatal automobile accident. All kinds of people in authority seem to have plans that stress “what we did before, remember? It worked pretty well, didn’t it? We have our Army, and those military branches somebody seems to know about. We can Build things, can’t we?” So we have to slow down. Well, I can do that if I must.
But Lord: we will have to focus on those poor and unemployed persons we know and could know. It’s time to give, to share, to “think outside the box.” Members of our own family have experience in doing that. Let’s Unite. Let’s lick this. We’ll be patient, and innovative, and use our imaginations. And, relax a little. I just know that we can come out of this united; maybe not better; but not licked!
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