Editor in Chief P.J. O’Rourke handed over the pen to Managing Editor Laura Greaver for this month’s Letter From the Editor.
Look how far we’ve come, world…
This time last year, we were fearful, anxious, and about to experience the summer that wasn’t… Now, we’re ready to tear off our masks and revel in crowded cookouts, packed concerts, and water parks teaming with germs people. ‘Merica!
I remember last summer when our community pool opened, it felt like a small slice of normalcy in the abyss of weirdness and panic we’d been experiencing since the onslaught of the pandemic in March 2020…
And while yes, it was wonderful to be back, it was a strange experience: swim team canceled, masks had to be worn unless you were swimming, temperature checks at the front gate, and families had to sign up for three-hour increments at the pool, with tables and chairs being sprayed down with sanitizer in between sessions.
As incredible as it seems, getting the COVID-19 vaccine has become as political as wearing a mask… Getting the shot (or not) seems to imply you’re picking a side.
People timidly waved at each other from afar… Pool friends are hard enough to recognize a whole year later anyway. But add a mask and it makes almost everyone look like strangers.
But my family went, enjoying the sunshine and cool water, happy to be out of the house, using careful sunscreen application so as not to get mask tans.
Fast forward to this year… Our pool opened Memorial Day weekend and things were “back to normal,” packed to the gills with swimsuit-clad bodies everywhere and no restrictions (other than don’t come if you feel sick, but wasn’t that a good rule of thumb pre-COVID anyway?).
I’m not sure if you remember books, America, but it’s what people used to sink their faces into to avoid dealing with family and strangers. Our editor-in-chief, P.J. O’Rourke, has written a few in his time, and he’s re-releasing his bestselling Eat the Rich, complete with a new chapter to take on the absurdity of 2021 economics. And as an American Consequences subscriber, you can have access to the newly released edition for free! Claim Your Copy Now.
Swim team resumed, with my son joining the masses of kids in the swim lanes, limbs splashing through the water like a frenzied school of feeding fish. Everyone seemed giddy with excitement to be back, and for the nightmare to be over…
But is it really over? Is it safe to get back in the water?
As incredible as it seems, getting the COVID-19 vaccine has become as political as wearing a mask… Getting the shot (or not) seems to imply you’re picking a side. Roughly 50% of the U.S. population has been vaccinated thus far, and seemingly any adult who wants it can get it.
I received the vaccine a few months ago at a mass vaccination site, thousands of us herded through roped-off lanes comparable to the ride lines at Disney. I’ve since ditched my mask at the grocery store, but I find many are still wearing them… which is fine – you do you and I’ll do me.
In April, after 388 days of being home, my kids’ school finally opened for in-person teaching. Those 13 months were a struggle – two parents juggling remote work with two kids being schooled at home, our Internet straining to keep up with all the laptops and streaming. I mourned the loss of their social interactions and sports seasons.
But my one son, who often got distracted at school, found online learning easier to follow, and blossomed academically this past school year.
Indeed, as I wrote in this Silver Linings piece last May, there was some good to be found in the world slowing down… Lockdowns allowed my family more together time and a breather from our usual chaos. However, I understand our situation was “easy” compared with many – we kept our jobs and no one got sick.
It’s truly difficult to wrap my head around the millions dead worldwide from this virus.
And many of us, myself included, were hoping for a line in the sand… a moment the world could rejoice that “the pandemic was over.” But the conflicting CDC guidance, varying mask mandates and school policies, and new virus strains have made that tricky.
The wealth gap in America has never been wider — we’ve still never fully recovered from the Great Recession of 2008, and it’s only going to get worse from here. But the effects of the Big Con are going to devastate those who don’t take action. So do something now while you still can.
We were being told that vaccinated people should keep wearing masks. Then we were told, the very next day – “It’s over, take them off!” No wonder folks were a bit suspicious about trusting the ever-evolving guidance.
In the meantime, planes are packed and airports are bustling… Cruise lines are running again… Restaurants and bars are back to full capacity.
In my house, school just wrapped for summer vacation. We’ve got camps lined up and vacations scheduled. I even just bought July concert tickets.
I’m embracing the world reopening. My toes are already dipped in the water… And I’m ready for that cannonball jump.