More time has zipped by. The days all looking the same.
All things considered, it's been a pretty decent summer.
Yeah, the virus rages on. There's still social unrest. We're fast approaching the first election in the new era. And, most daunting, school is about to restart.
I started this COVID-19 blog to tap on the thoughts and turns of what's going on in at least my head or house during these crazy times. Our outlook hasn't really changed. We still treat the virus as "when" not "if" we'll catch it. There isn't any real indicator that it has stopped entirely, anywhere it's been. Some places, like our beloved Marshall Islands, isolated quickly and completely, and haven't had one confirmed case. Others, like New Zealand, seemed to have stopped it cold, but have had occasional cases since, too.
Here in the US, of course, personal freedoms and disbelief or fatigue, have gotten the better of many people, and between mass and individual protests, there have been repeated resurgences, or continued infections, throughout. Some areas have been tempered, but none stopped. Even isolated Hawaii, with its travel restrictions and self-quarantine (and sometimes enforced quarantine) of travelers is seeing 200 new cases a day now.
India had a big lock-down, and slowed the infection, but as they loosened their restrictions, infections surged. China, who many claim is not being entirely forthcoming in its data, has also seen trickles of cases, while they had previously claimed to have eradicated it.
In addition the the virus, and maybe caused directly and indirectly by it, much social unrest has come to our attention. Much of the unrest was there before, but either it's louder or more frequent than before. It's certainly more visible. Some of that visibility because people are out of other things to do, like jobs or shopping or socializing. Some of that visibility is possibly because of being out of those other things, so now the replacement things are leading to more confrontation, or at least coverage.
There is a long history of social imbalance and injustice in our country, and around the world. In chats with my circle, we realize that we're buffered in many ways. By our jobs, by our geography, and sometimes by our race. I've long felt that we live in a generally balanced area. I've not seen overt racism in the workplaces I've been in for some time. While my non-white friends comment on ocassional glances or trepidation, it's often been tempered or dismissed as remnants, not norms. No one I know had been denied a job or home or loan or a seat at a restaurant. But I tend to hang out with people who have good jobs and live in good neighborhoods and have those good experiences.
It shames me to reflect and realize that what I saw as a kid, and thought the country had grown out of with me, really hasn't. It isn't isolated poor communities peppered throughout the country. These areas are probably not as dystopian as the movies make them out, but are more than I realized. I get the pockets of economic failure. I understand how the opportunities fail to develop in these depressed areas, and how difficult it can be to leave them, even for short bursts of work.
We can do better. We can all do better.
I'm not sure what or how to do better, but helping my young kids see and change is one way. Keeping the right kind of politicians in office is another. The kind of politicians who act, not just talk. The kind who make the laws to break these barriers, not reinforce them.
The police need to change, too. Don't get me wrong, until they pull me over for my stupid driving blunder, I love the police. I appreciate them in my blunder moment, too, but it's frustrating to get the lights and have someone tell you you're driving a little too fast or forgot to signal...especially when they give you a fine, or (and this has happened, but not for a long, long time) having a vehicle impounded or spending some time in a squad car or jail house.
The change they need is one of falling a little more on the "life is precious" side, and less on "stop the suspect." The cases where people are shot in seeming complicit or contained situations need to stop. Shooting a drunk driver fleeing a crash is stupid. Chasing a driver, drunk or otherwise, through streets, after collecting license plates, and especially with air support and camera tracking, is nonsense. The anarchy we have after the shooting seems like it'd be way worse than if we played a smarter game to catch them later; something more Enemy of the State than Judge Dredd. I know the police shouldn't be the military, but they could learn from the military: engagement skills. The military does not simply charge in and dominate, they engage and create security for those around them, and they have plenty of non-deadly ways of interacting.
I know some policemen. They aren't mindless thugs beating down populations in the name of prosperity and other people's peace. They don't tend to generalize or stereotype. They try to correct and encourage the conformity we all need in order to be a safe society. Don't speed, especially on neighborhood streets. Don't break or steal people's things. Don't hurt people. These few simple rules, which can be followed by everyone at all levels, and in all cases, can make the difference. The police should be held to the same level of accountability for these rules as everyone else. They should be shining banners of examples, not exempt arbiters of street justice.
The other civilities need to change, too. I didn't know there were still laws on the books preventing certain people from owning property in certain places. I figured the market took care of that. Whatever your race, you don't get to live in rich neighborhoods until you're rich. I'd love to have a pool in my home and an airplane parked at my airstrip outside to take me to my personal submarine near my favorite reef to explore the deep ocean. I don't have that, though. I don't have those resources, nor really a path to get all of those without some kind of borderline genie-provided luck.
Keeping otherwise eligible (can afford) people from buying or renting property because of antiquated laws is monstrously stupid. I get, it's a sign of the times. Those times have passed. Those laws need to be abandoned.
For this we need leadership. The US elections are going to bring about drastic change, no matter who wins.
I'm pretty sure if Trump wins, I'll be fine. I'm not rich, but comfortable. I'm white and suburban and educated and a veteran and all of the right kinds of checks to be looked over. My kids aren't some of those, so we'll be cautious about that. He's all hyperbole. Even if you take the top off the news at either end, the country's not doing well. We're under the crushing unknown of the virus. Jobs and the market and businesses are in turmoil. Racism and hate and fear and loathing are taking over in many, many places.
If Biden wins, I'll be fine. I'm not rich...wait, that bit's the same. If the turnover of Trump to Biden is also accompanied with a shift in ideology and progress through the rest of government, it'll be way better. The hate might not go away, but it should stop being encouraged and tolerated. The virus won't stop with the election, but mitigating it and better controlling it will happen with leadership that follows science better. The promises for social reform, could happen.
As we race toward the election in a few months, the campaigns, their marketing, and their messaging will surely overwhelm most of us. I hope that it's the old normal kind of rhetoric and blame game, and not so much fake and focused. I fear it will be. I barely look or care anyway. Trump proved me wrong, but I trusted the system would guardrail against too much abuse. Executive orders to belay laws fly out of the office with impunity, the long fought and hard negotiated worldwide compromises, tossed aside. Out right lies and barely controversial threats have been emitted. I now believe we need more and better information and transparency, and a return to a checks-and-balances system with backbone. I'm not sure I can trust any of the information to make an informed decision, so it's how you deal with "the devil you know," and it isn't keeping him in power.
The other thing we race toward is school. The virus is foremost in the plans and concerns, of course. The other tensions and concerns certainly will add to any situations at school.
...and interruptions caused a break and now I want to get this diatribe out.
I’ll comment on school later.