This week begins with the end of November and the start of the final month of 2020, perhaps the worst year for many.
December begins Tuesday in what can best be described as an altered reality for most. The COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic continues to alter our lives and places an asterisk on our future. A year that began with hope, a sense of future and a comfortable way of life is now a struggle to pay bills, keep food on the table and avoid infection.
At least two vaccines appear near approval to fight this deadly virus but it will, at best, a slow easing of the problem that will require months to administer, monitor and manage the killer in our midsts.
In Washington, a bitter defeated president lashes out at those he blames for a necessary defeat, while avoiding accepting any responsibility for the destruction left in his wake. Yet, those who follow and support him in a cult-like manner keep claiming election “fraud” that does not exist while ignoring just how close America’s greatness came way too close to the precipice.
Divisions driven by the man that many consider the most destructive demagogue to ever occupy the White House leaves ruptured relationships, mangled marriages and fractured relationships littering our landscapes.
As a newspaperman, I approach life as a “pragmatic realist” who sees our society through tired and troubled eyes. Any idealism died long ago, replaced with a pessimism that expects too much treachery, lies and fraud in our system. Sometimes, someone surprises with decency and honor, but those times come few and far between.
Somewhere packed away in one of many boxes still unpacked from the move from Washington to Floyd County 16 years ago is a poster that declared the Murphy, of “Murphy’s Law” is “was an optimist.” It suggests that whatever can go wrong will go wrong is only the beginning.
“Cheer up,” says an old cliché. ‘Things could be worse.”
My paternal grandfather, the dean of all things pessimistic, used to say “I cheered it and, sure enough, things got worse.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the Center of Infectious Diseases, says pretty much the same about the coronavirus. That warning is not new. Fauci has been saying pretty much the same thing since March.
He also argues against those who say a national “lockdown” may be necessary to stem the flow. A lockdown would further cripple a damaged economy and a tired nation.
Last month, he told 60 minutes:
“They’d have to get really, really bad. First of all, the country is fatigued with restrictions. So we wanna use public health measures not to get in the way of opening the economy, but to being a safe gateway to opening the economy. So instead of having an opposition, open up the economy, get jobs back, or shut down. No. Put ‘shut down’ away and say, ‘We’re gonna use public health measures to help us safely get to where we wanna go.'”
That came a month before hundreds of thousands of Americans ignored warnings and packed airplanes and highways to travel over the Thanksgiving weekend to create what most medical experts fear: A “superspreader” event that will drive the record rate of infections even higher.
Those infections should start hiking up the numbers by the end of this week, adding to the record increases in hospitalizations and death.
And the beat goes on as we hobble our way towards a new year after the one that ends with tempered hope and too many questions.