Day 80. This is the Washington DC to which I returned yesterday.
Day 78. Tomorrow, seventy nine days after I first began to shelter in place, I will begin the process of returning to my office. This week it will be for the next two days; one to prepare for next week’s depositions and one to participate in my first ever video/zoom mediation. Next week I will be working from my office for the entire week to take my first time ever video depositions.
Clearly, I am not returning to the work environment which I left two and half months ago. It is a changed work place; one of new procedures, safeguards, and restrictions. As I have been contemplating my “return” (a misnomer) my emotions have vacillated between apprehension and resolve. I am leaving the safety of my home where I have been able to control “everything”; where I decided the risks I was willing to take and those that I was unwilling to take. Starting tomorrow, however, I will be entering an environment in which my control is more limited, personal risk management more challenging, and in which my health at least in part will be dependent on the behavior of others.
But nothing lasts forever. And while surely there will still be days on which I work remotely, it was only a matter of time when I would have to venture out into the the uncharted territory of the Corona virus. Tomorrow I begin this part of my own personal pandemic journey.
I still plan on blogging my way thru to the end of the pandemic; though the frequency of my blogs will likely change. In any event, wish me luck as I brave this new world.
Day 77. On the day when the Washington DC area should finally have able to enjoy a bit of relief from the stresses of the shelter in place orders under which we have been living for two and a half months, the area is under greater tension than could ever have been imagined. The city is under curfew and only time will tell whether the rioting of the last two nights will return. The combined effects of the pandemic and the George Floyd killing have set the country on fire – literally. And no one can predict when peace will be restored. Nor can we evaluate either the short term or long term impacts . One thing is clear – we are a terribly divided country. Our divisions appear to deepen daily. This does not bode well for the challenges before us.
Unfortunately, the peace of the placid lake I passed early this morning belies our current reality.
© Judah Lifschitz 2020
Day 76. A pandemic. A brutal police murder. Riots across America. A President who legitimizes hate. Have we learned nothing? What happened to “alone but together”?
Day 73. This week two noteworthy pandemic related milestones were reached. The first a grim one: in a short three month period the United States lost 100,000 people to the Corona virus. The second a positive, but concerning one: major portions of the Washington DC metropolitan area, specifically DC and Northern Virginia, have announced that they are ready to transition to a Phase 1 level reopening.
To put the first milestone in perspective, during the entire Viet Nam War which lasted several years, approximately 56,000 Americans lost their lives in battle. During the 1960’s, daily reports of American servicemen dying in battle led to an anti war protest movement which gained such prominence and influence that it ultimately forced an end to the war. So many Americans were so outraged at the enormous loss of life that they demanded that their government change its policy and bring an end to the dying.
In three short months the Corona virus has killed more Americans than died in the Viet War. And the death toll continues to rise.
Which leads me to the second milestone, the reopening of the Washington DC area. The transition to a Phase 1 reopening does not represent the end of the threat of Covid-19. Quite to the contrary, the virus is still very much a very serious threat to our health. What has changed is that the infection rate has been flattened such that health care facilities are now deemed to have adequate resources to treat those requiring hospitalization and critical care. In other words, the battle against the Corona Virus is still raging – no one has declared a cease fire.
Which means that to defeat the virus and stop the dying, America needs a Covid-19 “anti war” movement to rally against needless death. Such a movement requires a unity of purpose and action to combat the spread of the virus and reduce the risk of a deadly second wave.
What is perplexing, however, is that unlike the anti-war movement of the 1960’s which united against war and needless dying, today’s protest movements, the attitudes of many of our political leaders and pundits, and the lackadaisical behavior of many common citizens like you and me are the exact opposite – advocacy and behaviors that will lead to a second wave and that will sustain the death rate.
Americans will not be safe, the dying will not stop, the pandemic will not come to an early end until and unless we unite in mind and action, exercise personal responsibility, and protect each other from infection.
We need another “anti war” movement committed to ending needless death.
Day 72. In response to my post of yesterday a good friend sent me the following email on the importance of keeping the pandemic and its impact on our lives in perspective. I am most grateful for his thoughts and share them with you.
“I’m not downplaying the seriousness of the virus or the world we live in today but I also think it helps to think about what our parents and grandparents dealt with through their lives. Maybe it was a bit different because there was no 24 hour news feed, maybe it was a bit different because they didn’t grow up feeling so entitled or maybe it was a bit different because they were just stronger than we are today…………………..
Anyway, thought you might like some perspective on what you would have faced in your life if you had been born in 1900. Stay safe and be well!!”
A reality check –
It’s a mess out there now. Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.
On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.
On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy. When you turn 39, World War II starts in Europe. But no time to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.
Smallpox was epidemic until you were in your 40’s, as it killed 300 million people during your lifetime. At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. From your birth, until you are 55 you dealt with the fear of Polio epidemics every summer. You experienced friends and family contracting polio, becoming paralyzed and/or dying.
At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. During the Cold War, 1945 – 1990, you lived each day with the fear of nuclear annihilation. On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, almost ended. When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.
Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How did they endure all of that? Perspective is an amazing art. Refined and enlightening as time goes on. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Your parents and/or grandparents were called to endure all of the above – you are called to stay at home and sit on the couch.
Human nature is such that at some point “stay at home” orders will become unsustainable.
We will come to regard the period of sheltering in place as having been the more “simple” period of response to the Corona virus threat.
The post “shelter in place” period will present significant individual and societal challenges until a vaccine or cure is discovered.
Because the virus will remain a constant danger but individual and societal response to it will be varied the death toll will continue to climb to unimaginable numbers.
A huge number of Americans, 100,000, have lost their lives to Covid-19 in a few short months. The enormous death toll number alone is not impactful enough to influence the personal behavior of large numbers of the public.
The notion that the economy will “snap back” in short order is foolish. Businesses will continue to struggle with the impacts of the pandemic for months to come.
The pandemic will cause radical change to schools, summer camps, child care etc. The results will be significant. The level of education will suffer for the length of the pandemic. The impact to child care will in turn reduce the ability of businesses to ‘”return to normal” which will in turn contribute to a longer , deeper economic downturn.
Where, when and how we pray will be effected for the life of the pandemic
We can hope for a vaccine in the near future but must plan for living with the Corona virus over a sustained period of time.
Ignoring the virus will not make it go away.
Day 69. A photographic Memorial Day Salute to all those who protect and defend us.
© Judah Lifschitz 2020
Day 67. This weekend America pays tribute to all those who have served and are currently serving to protect our freedom, our way of life, our very lives. It is a time to pause and think about how lucky we are to live in this great country; an opportunity to not take for granted the freedoms we enjoy each and every day. A weekend to acknowledge all those men and women who throughout our history and to this very day sacrifice so that we may live in peace.
This year in particular it is a time for reflection.
© Judah Lifschitz 2020