Saturday, March 11, 2023

Three Years of Madness, Has the Learning Stopped?

 Two years ago, I posted about the lessons I learned in the first year of the pandemic. Quickly two years flew by, two years of vaccinations and folks railing against the vaccines, two years of death and two years of anxiety, stress, and "are we there yet?"  Sure, I marked last year's anniversary as well, noting the anger and frustration, so I am now struggling to figure out what I have learned as people start talking "post-pandemic"as if covid is gone.

More than a few relatives have been hit by Covid twice.  The only exception to all of this is my mother, who has been entirely covid-free.  Good thing given she is now over 90.  There is significant variation among my friends and family now.  Before, they all vaxxed and they all masked and most avoided most travel.  Now?  All are still getting boosted, but the mask and travel thing is now much more of a mix.  I just came back from a big family event in that hotspot of hotspots--Florida.  I saw a fair amount of masking, but very little at the big party.  

My own approach: damned if I know.  I tend to mask up when I am shopping, going to the movies (I keep on making mine Marvel!), teaching.  But receptions? Not so much because it is hard to do that networking/conversing thing behind masks.  So, I did duck out of one massive reception in Ottawa a few weeks ago.  For me, it is about risk mitigation.  I am going to a rock concert next week--which could be a superspreader event, so I am wearing a mask.  For less risky stuff, for outdoors stuff, I don't sweat it as much.  I am guessing that the vaccines have worked most of the time I have been exposed to covid, with that one exception from last summer.  

 I have been and will keep on skiing.  It is really the best anti-covid sport--distances between people outdoors, wearing stuff on one's face--with the only risky part the travel and the apres-ski.  

 My baking has slowed down, but when the occasion calls for it, I still bake up a storm.  I will be making cookies and/or brownies for next week's ISA convention in Montreal.   I have been adding new recipes at a slower rate.  Much of my time now is on planning the big kitchen renovation, which I wish we had done before the pandemic.  

Anyhow, back to the lessons of the past year.  I think the learning curve has flattened.  Most of the lessons were in the first two years of this thing.  Some of those have deepened--that leadership or its absence matters a great deal; that most politicians are craven as they are unwilling to impose any restrictions during new waves because of resistance they experienced before; that the anti-vaxxers who scream about freedom are mostly interested in dominating others; that people really are social so the mild lockdowns North America faced did leave some scars; that elections, yes, have consequences; that as long as the deaths are not so visible, they can be tolerated by the political system; that prevention remains much harder to get folks to support than response; and so on.

The biggest lesson I mentioned before remains: that COVID reveals not just pre-existing conditions in the bodies of its victims, but it reveals the flaws in our political and social systems.  It did not have to be this way--it did not have to be so partisan, that vaccines did not have to become so politicized and become an identity thing, that provinces and states could have spent money on improving health care, but many chose not to because they were led by people who want government to fail.  

Not only did this ultimately kill and disable more people than could have been the case, but it means that we are all less likely to be prepared for the next pandemic AND that we are unlikely to have politicians take the necessary steps next time.  So, yeah, either the learning has stopped or the unlearning has begun.  Damn.

No comments: