Alternatives to Duh

We shouldn’t be surprised that our country and the world are responding poorly to the COVID pandemic, that our collective actions are harming many. We haven’t done much to ensure the safety of women, people of color, LGTBQ+, people with disabilities, the poor, the middle class, people in developing countries, animals, ecosystems, or really anyone or anything. We haven’t responded well to climate change, wars, fires, floods, hurricanes, financial crises, or any other disaster. Why would we start now? Why would the COVID pandemic be an exception? Therefore, we need to accept that the worst-case pandemic scenario is the most likely scenario, and any positive deviation from that will be a happy surprise.

In this light, I’m ruefully accepting that millions of Americans and tens of millions of people worldwide will die of COVID, that we’ll remain in some version of quarantine for years, that COVID will become endemic, and that we’ve already triggered a global depression that will last a decade or longer. To be clear, I don’t want any of this, and I see that much suffering could have been avoided with better leadership and smarter individual actions. Much suffering could still be avoided, in fact. What I am saying, however, is that these worst-case scenario forecasts are likely inevitable, at least to some degree. I certainly can’t stop it by consuming more news items, tweets, and videos about our worsening conditions.

Instead, I’m shifting my focus to what’s going right, and what I—and we —can do to make things better. I’m not denying the devastation, quite the opposite. I’m viewing it with open eyes, accepting the difficult truths that I see, and then putting my energies to building a new world that works better for everyone.