Since the pandemic first crossed our shores, all of us— baby boomers and everyone else— has had to learn things about our society, and perhaps about ourselves, that we wish we’d never had to learn. Some are consequential, some are frivolous. That’s what led BoomerCafé’s co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs to think through what he has learned during the pandemic.
➤ Back in the pandemic’s early days, for those who lost a job to go to (but not the resources to survive), a month of Sundays sounded kind of nice. But every season runs its course. Now it feels more like a month of Mondays.
➤ Maybe the luckiest generation in America today is mine, the baby boomers. For the one venerable generation even older, the pandemic has laid bare its vulnerability to this virus, and laid low a record number of its victims. For the generations younger, it’s not just that life has been put on hold, but that so much forward progress has been lost, from job growth to social contact to precious parts of education. Boomers are the lucky ones because by and large, we aren’t yet exposed in nursing homes, but are well past the developmental years where for others, the pandemic has brought such life-shattering changes.
➤ Truer than ever now, life is not a fairy tale. Some stories don’t have a happy ending. From the first hellish death from the virus, from the first plunge into poverty, this one hasn’t. And won’t.
➤ If we didn’t know it before, we know it now: men really don’t need neckties (we just need to be neater when we’re sipping soup). Women probably feel the same about 6-inch stilettos (well, except for Ivanka and Melania).
➤ Some shortages make sense: propane-powered heat towers for people with outdoor space since seeing friends is safer outdoors than in. Bikes for people who don’t want to go to the gym or take the bus. Even flour, because so many more people are spending so much more time at home. But the toilet paper thing? That one will never make sense.
➤ Years ago, I wrote a book called Life in the Wrong Lane. It is mainly about the life of a foreign correspondent— my life. I came up with the title when I thought about television coverage of hurricanes, where you’ll see shots from local news helicopters of highways packed like parking lots because everyone who’s smart is in the right lane, trying to get as far from the trouble as they can. But every once in a while a car goes whistling down the wrong lane, racing toward the trouble. Those are the first responders… and the journalists. Now, with the pandemic, it’s frontline workers who live life in the wrong lane. They walk knowingly toward trouble, day in and day out. They are healthcare workers, nursing home aides, teachers, grocery clerks, police officers, and others we never fully appreciated before. Maybe now, that changes.
➤ Plenty of people just don’t read any news from reliable sources. They don’t read it, they don’t watch it, they don’t listen to it. So to be magnanimous toward some who show no obedience to good guidance from public health experts, maybe we can cut them a speck of slack. But when people we know are smart and well-informed but still ignore reality, there’s only one appalling lesson: we truly live in alternate universes. And only one alarming conclusion: trying to explain it with logic is a total waste of time.
➤ Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt (and if you don’t get da point, say da sentence out loud).
➤ One of the key questions for which we don’t have all the answers is, what won’t ever again be the same? This pandemic has forced changes in how we gather, how we shop, how we work, how we eat, how we communicate, how we learn. It has blighted businesses, it has heightened homelessness. It has made some of us forlorn of our loneliness, and others fearful of our fellow man. Some of these impacts will be long-lasting for sure. But which will be permanent? We just don’t know. Not yet.
➤ But maybe Zoom? I’ve come to hate Zoom. Sure, it lets us connect with those we love and those we miss and right now there is no substitute and until we reach the light at the end of the tunnel, I wouldn’t trade it. But still, I hate Zoom.
➤ From its birth, America has been great. At least until four years ago when one man, enabled and encouraged by many more and showing a lethal lack of leadership during the pandemic, threatened to take it down. But last month, the majority of Americans took him down. There never was a need to make America great again. Beginning January 20th, its enduring greatness will be affirmed.
But not before we must endure a few more weeks of the dangerous and despicable doings of Donald Trump, who is like a little boy screaming, “If I can’t have what I want, no one will.” Now, on top of his continuing campaign to depreciate our democracy, this petulant president has refused to sign, without empathy or remorse, a bi-partisan funding bill, letting programs for the poor expire— on which millions depend day to day for their survival— and retarding relief for the twelve-and-a-half million Americans who have been thrown out of work.
Two New York Times White House correspondents, trying to figure out what drives this cruel creature, wrote, “It is not clear that Mr. Trump’s latest behavior is anything other than a temper tantrum, attention seeking or a form of therapy.” I beg to differ. It is an act of domestic terrorism. The basic definition of terrorism is, an act that is dangerous to human life, committed against non-combatants, for social or political gain.
Trump is a terrorist.
But soon he will be out on his ear. Good riddance. The tunnel does have an end.