Randi Kreiss

Really, what’s up with the whole world?


Have you noticed that the seams don’t meet the right way and the doorjamb is wobbly? Our house is unstable. The beams of this great edifice called America are slightly off plumb in a number of disturbing ways. Nothing at all is exactly as it was before the pandemic overwhelmed the United States. In small ways and profound ways, cultural and political forces are impeding the ordinary progression of life in America. But then, what’s ordinary? Most of us have given up on the concept of going back to “normal,” and what passes for normal these days is disquieting.
It isn’t just the pandemic, as if one could write off a highly infectious novel virus that swept around the world, killing 700,000 people here at home. It is how the pandemic was handled from the time it was discovered, then covered up, then ignored, then addressed with inoculation and medical efforts that ranged from inadequate to state-of-the-art medicine. I just checked in to the CDC website and saw that they have now broken down categories of information into: What We Know and What We Are Still Learning. That’s good. The fact that there is a learning curve in science seems to have challenged the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, which by any reasonable account have been remarkably successful in saving lives.
We are in a world where scientists are vilified for not having all the answers, the president is begging and bribing folks to take a shot that will keep them out of the hospital, and large swaths of people are bonding online and deciding that it is safer to throw away our protective masks, refuse the vaccine and embrace bizarre and debunked remedies for this deadly disease. With some few exceptions, there is no excuse for refusing a mask and a vaccine. Using horse de-wormer instead of monoclonal antibodies? It’s kind of like what Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography: I know crazy when I see it.
The problem is that those of us who have followed the science and had the vaccine, and perhaps the booster, by now can feel safe, but not completely safe. If we have young children or grandchildren, we see those who refuse the vaccine as a direct threat to the health of our family.
As we re-emerge into the world, the places we go are all changed. How did the “office” disappear in two years? Transportation is different from what it was, with some mask rules and some vaccine requirements on planes and trains. Some travel, like cruises, requires not just the time and money, but a willing suspension of disbelief.

If you can’t bear cooking one more meal at home and venture out, chances are the server and possibly the chef are new hires. The workforce is sliced and diced, and not many people are fully trained for the jobs they are doing.
If you talk to a friend of the heart for more than hi-and-how-are-you, chances are you’ll get into your mutual stress levels and anxiety. The psychiatrists don’t have enough hours for the people who need help, because we all need some help right now.
If you live in a community or apartment building of some kind, then you know about improvement projects being delayed because the painter shows up but there’s no paint. My son finally got his new roof, but the roofer had no gutters to install. Costco is out of toilet paper again.
There are people who don’t have enough food, who can’t get to work, who have no health care and who don’t have proper shelter. We are living in a country that desperately needs new bridges and tunnels and roads. There is a good plan to rebuild and, at this moment, it may not get passed by Congress. Not because we don’t need it. Not because most Americans don’t support it. But because the government is paralyzed by partisanship and ignorance and fear.
This morning I read in The Washington Post that in Anchorage, Alaska, people attended a public hearing on mask wearing with yellow Stars of David on their arms, equating the mask requirement to Nazi-era restrictions on Jews in Germany that led to the Holocaust and the death of some 6 million people.
I am worried for us.
Most disturbing is the elevation of lies for personal and political gain. For me, there is some comfort in bearing witness to this time. We must keep talking and writing, acknowledging the losses and summoning the strength to tighten the floor joists and secure the roof.

Copyright 2021 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.


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