How do we reflect during a pandemic, or Pi Day 2021

Ah, let me dust around here and welcome us all back to the blog. This will be an extra-long post, so stick around and enjoy. Here are a few of my quick observations of the past three months of 2021:

Somehow, time went too fast and too slow at the same time. I keep reminding myself that things are still going on, “during a pandemic.” I look forward to seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and hope to catch up with so many people properly (like, in person, and not via Zoom/Skype/Web-ex/phone, etc).

I think that I and everyone else entered 2021 with so much hope that 2021 would be tons better than 2020 – and I had genuinely (mostly? sort of?) hoped that 2020 was going to be such a key and cool year, until the COVID-19 pandemic pretty much rendered 2020 a wash.

On the one hand, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris got elected as president and vice president; on the other hand, enough people were not persuadable and the lack of trust in our government is a sad low. It’s hard to gather people together to do better when there is such a lack of trust.

And, okay, not everything is about politics, but so much about politics is the engine to a lot of other things.

January 6, 2021 – the insurrection at Congress – was a surreal thing to me. I’m still not sure what to think, a couple of months later, but it’s horrific to realize that people did such a thing as invade the halls of Congress and I’m not sure what they think that they got out of it. That was not peaceful protest; that was a breach of national security. Democracy and rule of law don’t work like that, and that’s not how you make a better society for anyone, even for yourself. I’m being a little smug and glib about this, but that whole mess was appalling to me, and I don’t like the long-term consequences of what occurred on January 6.

Fortunately, Inauguration Day 2021 went off without a hitch, although I can only imagine the amounts of work behind the scenes that kept things smooth, despite a pandemic and the tension of the insurrection. I appreciated having Joe Biden try to bring us together, and Kamala Harris – making history (“herstory”!).

I said, as a Facebook status post on January 20, 2021: “I have a strange relief that this Inauguration Day 2021 was inclusive (or tried to be, anyway); made history (first Black and Asian Indian woman Vice President!); and was not about ‘American carnage.’ In fact, let’s stop the pandemic that is causing real carnage, so we can enjoy future inauguration days the way they’re supposed to be enjoyed: together.”

I like poetry readings for the inauguration, and Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate, did a great job with a poem for unity and hope. If you’re so inclined, here’s an NPR link (https://www.npr.org/sections/inauguration-day-live-updates/2021/01/20/958743170/poet-amanda-gorman-reads-the-hill-we-climb) that contextualized the inaugural poetry reading; surprisingly, poetry readings at the Inauguration apparently don’t happen that often.

Then, reality sets in. We’re still in a pandemic, which is causing an economic crisis and there is still a lot of social injustice, in terms of race, gender, and everything else. We’re still facing ecological/environmental crises.

The Bernie Sanders and his mittens meme from the inauguration – weird yet funny – that was a fun thing to get us together. Inauguration during a pandemic – for one day, it seemed like we could be and are better people.Well, I really had to read about how it was okay to have hope amid the inauguration. (so, yes, check out “It’s okay to feel hope,” by Zack Beauchamp, Jan. 20, 2021, Vox)

Oh, and that 2nd impeachment convinced me that an impeachment is not an effective tool for checks and balances. Dread deepens when it gets harder to see what unifies this country.

The COVID-19 vaccines are coming. My moral outrage is utterly impotent concerning how inequitable the vaccine rollout has been (putting aside who to blame for the screwy vaccination distribution). Maybe things will get better? I don’t know. You can’t shame people because, like with the issue of why won’t people wear masks, shame does nothing and the goal is to get more vaccine in arms. (but, man, shaming others and judging sure feel good to me!).

But, if more vaccines in arms is the goal, why not just first come, first serve? Wouldn’t that go faster? Oh, wait, oh yeah, not enough vaccines to go around, so that was why we were trying to come up with priorities. Or so I thought anyway.

(and I do understand that there may be those who genuinely cannot wear masks or can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons. It’s just that I wish that we can be cooperative about how to get through the pandemic).

So, I keep getting amazed by how much the pandemic has taught us (or not taught us, among those who seem unable or unwilling to learn lessons) about inequities and the lack of will to work collectively/cooperatively. I keep wondering why hate reins so easily in our society.

Sometimes I wonder if we can just get back to basics, to ask ourselves what we expect government to do for us, and what are the basic things we expect each other to do for each other? What are we willing to invest in, and for whom and how? Of course, these are things I’m not sure that Americans at all levels were willing to really answer during pre-pandemic times; and I feel like answering questions seem unlikelier than ever. (granted, of course, all my questions are rhetorical and ultimately meaningless…).

I meant for 2020 to be the year that I do less Facebook and social media. 2020 ended up not being the year for that for me. (that was a great joke in one of Stephan Pastis’s “Pearl Before Swine” comic strip, along the lines of how exponential social media posting correlates with unhappiness). My mood for pop culture waned.

I’m still resisting streaming. But, recently, I did ended up watching the Wong Kar-Wai film retrospective that Brooklyn Academy of Music offered, accessing it online (the portion of tickets went to fund-raise for BAM). I should do a blog post about having watched some of those movies, one of these days.

Disney Plus is sure tempting me to give up my resistance, since they now have the Muppet Show and MCU has television shows (streaming only) to transition to the next phase of the MCU are coming; “WandaVision” has sounded really cool and interesting, and coming up next is “The Falcon and the Winter Solder” for how The Falcon and The Winter Soldier seem to have a lot of hijinks and celebrate the value of friendship (hopefully without too much of an emotional roller coaster ride?). (as a side note: I never did get into “Agents of SHIELD…”)

I consider this weekend, March 13 to 14, to be the weekend when the real change happened in 2020 – i.e., when the shutdown started; and so perhaps it’s only fair that March 14, 2021, be the day that NYC officially reflect (see here for the Gothamist post regarding New York City’s Day of Remembrance for COVID-19). I don’t think we had ever imagined last year that we’d take such a journey or that we’d reach a point that 1 out of 5 Americans would know someone who has died from COVID-19. The percentage who had to mourn for a death, which occurred during the pandemic but where people couldn’t gather for the death because of the pandemic, is probably no better.

This is all pretty heartbreaking to think about that, as we enter a one year mark to remember those we lost. Keep hope alive, somehow…

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