Beyond the Plague

Author: Gary Hart

Since many of us find ourselves with time on our hands, sadly, it might be interesting to solicit forecasting from our modest but erudite band.  When all of this is over and the plague has been banished, God willing, what will the world, or at least our part of the world, look like?  Will it be pretty much like the pre-plague world or will we have entered a new set of realities, through the looking glass as it were?

And as a gesture of affection for our international colleagues and friends, Elizabeth and Lorenzo, “our part of the world” must, of course, include our neighbor to the North and our close ally across the pond.

For purposes of discussion, let’s assume historic and traditional governing structures, business structures, economic formulas and institutions, and family lives will remain basically intact.  But, for purposes of speculation and imagination, even these foundations might be forced to adapt.

Let’s arbitrarily picked an end and beginning date of 1 January 2021, last plague death and no new infections.  What will that morning look like?  Will we stay in bed and pull the covers over our respective heads out of sheer exhaustion?  Or will we bound up, throw the curtains open, and greet the dawn out of sheer exhilaration at having survived?

Will badly damaged confidence in governments return, or will stored up anger at mismanagement cause new political parties to sprout?  Will millions of small lost businesses be restored, or will we enter a long period of recession and mass unemployment?  Will small towns and communities have disappeared and cities have become even larger and more unmanageable?

Does the dark cloud of recession and possibly even depression have a silver lining?  Will carbon footprints across the globe have shrunk and carbon emissions be reduced to manageable and sustainable levels?

How do you imagine democratic societies to have changed?  Have social patterns returned to pre-plague conditions?  Will friends greet each other with hugs and kisses as before?

How about a generation of children that has experienced the plague?  As adolescents and eventually young adults, will that generation forever be looking over its collective shoulders and fearing what might happen…again?

This list of question could lengthen, but you get the idea.  Twenty-twenty could be but a hiccup in human history.  Or it might be a turning point in human history, like a world war, the 1918 flu epidemic, the first atomic detonation, or a landing on the moon.

Perhaps not next New Year’s Day, but years from now, our current experience must cause thoughtful people to reassess priorities, think more seriously about life…and death, grieve for lost loved ones, strengthen (or possibly weaken) families.

Some will become philosophical about what society owes us and what we owe society.  Some will seek more wealth for the security it offers and others disdain it for the protections it could not provide.

Some might pop a cork or two and say, “dodged that bullet.”

Some might even think, Life is fragile and I’m wasting a lot of it, so let’s think seriously about service to others.

What does life after the plague mean for you?

 

 

15 Responses to “Beyond the Plague”

  1. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    It could be too soon to think about beyond the plague.

    Because I was laughing out loud through this whole piece. 🙂

    I may be too far gone already but, this piece should remain at the top and not be archived. It really all depends on what happens in November …

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Speaking of which and on a more serious note, has anybody seen Biden … did Bernie drop out yet … will there be more primaries … should all voting be done by mail, now … will there even be a vote during the plague?

  3. Raymond Matlock Says:

    I believe the critical date will be January 20, 2021, when a new administration takes office. This assumes that we have an election in November and that the intelligent, pro-science, empathetic party wins. Then there will be lessons learned from this pandemic. Our preparedness will be a priority and a reality. Rosy scenarios will yield to fact-based predictions and scientific models. Federal agencies and departments will be fully staffed with dedicated civil servants eager to correct the errors of the last few years. Citizens will have taken their vote seriously and will work to safeguard and expand the franchise. Then we will welcome a new dawn. If, however, the current administration is returned to office, we will stay in bed with the covers pulled over our heads, cowering with dread for the darkness ahead.

  4. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    Dear Senator

    So beautiful a piece, so meaningful to be referenced. That you did so here, I appreciate so very much.

    The questions are powerful, and their number many, much to consider.

    I have written on here and in article in these weeks, my view is changes much in the way of this article, and more, have to occur.

    So poignant a piece, I shall, write an article on the site I am deeply involved in as a writer etc. And reference you as inspirational thus.

  5. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I just meant that we have to figure out how to get THROUGH the plague first.

  6. Bryan Moser Says:

    These events may introduce instability yet also moderation. I am hopeful; my students — 19 years old and facing these events — are sober, serious, and reflective. They see the gap between ideological claims and real world effect, the limits of social media as civic engagement, and the need for trust in (some) institutions. A “have you no shame” moment for the dark forces clouding our future.
    The great effort by many to slowly dig us out of this crisis will require engagement beyond clicking an app. A steady attention to building — to craft, to implement, to maintain, learn, and adapt for a healthy town and healthy republic. In the trenches of fighting the disease we may rediscover community. I am hopeful.

    From Boston we wish you and your family safety.

  7. Gary Hart Says:

    To all: backlog of comments due to computer access problems. Be patient. Seeing technical help. GH

  8. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    No rose colored glasses:

    01/01/2021:
    As we enter the ninth month of the Martial Law and no Habeas Corpus era established on 01/05/2020, with the abolishment of both the Congress and the US Federal Judiciary as of 06/01/2020, and lastly with the suspension of all elections as of 07/01/2020 which will continue until it is determined the declared National Emergency can be suspended, the current person holding the office of President of the United States declares himself President for life. He sets up a commission to select judges to appoint to the newly established Federal Marshal Law Tribunals to be headed by former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as the Commissioner of the commission and former Senator and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as Assistant Commissioner of the commission. Former Attorney General William Barr has been selected as Head of the Federal Law Enforcement Commission into which all existing law enforcement agencies, federal, state and local have been incorporated. Former Vice President Pence has been appointed Prime Minister for Internal Affairs, and former Secretary of State has appointed Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Director of the National Security Agency is now in direct control of ALL intelligence agencies as well as the Department of Defense.

    All state and local governments have been abolished and replaced by federal administrators appointed by the Head of the Law Enforcement Commission, who each have the power to organize and govern their respective jurisdictions. The process of reorganizing the rest of the federal, state, and local departments and agencies is still a work in progress.

    Large incarceration facilities are being built to house the vast number of public policy disrupters, who have been convicted by the Federal Marshal Law Courts.

    Relative peace and calm have returned to most federal jurisdictions and the new government is working to reestablish the foundation for rebuilding the nations economy after the upheaval of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. However, those who were responsible for the lack of planning to prevent the spread of this virus, as well as those who failed to properly protect the citizens of this nation from the virus, are being sought and will be prosecuted for their crimes.

    The President for Life of the United States of America foresees a great new nation arising out of the ashes of the old nation and becoming the greatest nation that the world has ever seen.

    History is written by the victors.

  9. Michael Says:

    If the 1998-19 pandemic is any guide the world will not only go on as before, but people will quickly forget about it. This time around things will probably be different because of social media. There will be many stories about people who have lost a loved one. Many of us will probably know of someone who has passed away. I can well imagine an atmosphere nationally similar to the one that prevailed for months after 9/11 here in NYC; the flat, almost numb feeling that the air had gone out. That will certainly leave a mark on young people for the rest of their lives.

    Economically, we are closing down the economy to fight the pandemic. I’ve seen predictions of a 25% to 30% contraction in the second quarter; a catastrophic plunge, which took three years in the Great Depression, happening in three months. A great many small businesses won’t survive; we will hear a lot about countless families that have been financially ruined. The president of the St. Louis Fed said last week that unemployment could reach 30%, which would be higher than the Great Depression. The general collapse in supply and demand, as in the Depression, will lead to deflation. The Fed itself is throwing everything at this; keeping rates low and will be engaging in many rounds of quantitative easing. But there will need to be a much more massive fiscal response to mitigate all this, far beyond the $2 trillion passed last week, and that won’t be easy.

    Internationally, will the collapse of oil prices lead to a more aggressive Russia? What effects will it have in the Middle East? China was able to eventually get the virus under control using draconian tactics. Our leadership is incompetent. The 1918 pandemic ended with the US emerging as a world power. This could be the time China emerges as the predominant economic power in the world. Last week we saw a rush into Chinese government debt that pushed US yields higher even as the stock market was crashing. And what happens if the US election is chaotic and Trump again squeezes out a win? The world will quickly lose patience with us.

    Senator Hart set the date of January 2021 for assessing the aftereffects of all this. That is too soon. Medical experts warn that the virus will ease in the summer and be back with a vengeance in the fall. A vaccine will probably still be months away.

    But her emails.

  10. H Patrick Pritchard Says:

    From a post on facebook: Some self evident truths
    The economy is built on the backs of the workforce not CEO’s!
    We are a global community whether you like it or not!
    Healthcare is a human right. We need universal healthcare and planning to prepare for medical disasters!
    Doing things for the benefit of others not just ourselves. Generosity not greed is how we survive.

  11. Lorenzo Cherin Says:

    Thanks to Senator Hart for his comments, shall take up this idea of a rethink of society, here and in articles, it is a cause that I am keen on. So poignant a piece here, it needs reflection…

  12. Gary Hart Says:

    To All: Profound apologies for the delay in posting comments and thanks to all who did submit comments. The humble moderator was without connectivity for a week and if you want to experience frustration, that is the way to do it. Tech finally arrived and only a few minutes ago did I recover phone and internet. Thank you for your patience and do look at the new essay just posted. Gary

  13. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    >>>>>>The humble moderator was without connectivity for a week and if you want to experience frustration, that is the way to do it.

    And, that’s no April Fools’ joke! Being sans internet(s) is the absolute definition of frustration (especially now), bordering on … I don’t know what but, I’ve been there and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! 🙂

  14. Alex Tydings Says:

    DH Lawrence once described Italians as people who “pour themselves one over the other like so much melted butter over parsnips.”
    I look forward to the return of not just hugs and handshakes but melted butter Italian style lavish affection.
    Can’t think much past that.
    Maybe some gelato too.

  15. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Indeed.

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