We’ll get through this. (Reality check. Most of us will get through this; but that’s true of every moment. None of us are immortal, yet.) Opening a bottle of dishwashing detergent reminded me of other threats that we got through, and changed our lives. Predicting the outcome of this crisis is a foolish and unnecessary game. Looking back, however, is helpful. And, ironically, helps us imagine possibilities.
Working from home means getting to play in the kitchen. Yay! I don’t work from recipes, so each meal can be an experiment. I live alone, so only my taste buds and digestive tract are at risk. (Meatloaf, just so you know.)
Cooking = cleaning, and cleaning led to dish soap.
Start filling the sink. Realize I ran out of dish soap. Grab a bottle of it from under the sink. Tilt. Squirt. And nothing. Oh yeah. There’s a little safety cap, a cap inside the cap that supposedly proves that no one tampered with the product. That and child-proof caps permeate consumer products. It wasn’t always that way. Packaging is a relatively new idea. Thank the Industrial Revolution for packaging. Blame several people for abusing a trust by lacing or poisoning various things. Welcome to decades of yet another step in the manufacturing process. Welcome to decades of frustration from folks who can’t get past the safety features.
Cars. Seat belts. Air bags. From dangerous simplicity to safe complexity.
A world war inspired the US Interstate highway system.
Go back several centuries. The Black Death (bubonic plague) killed millions at a time when we didn’t have billions of people, undermined centuries of royalty, created a middle class, and either unleashed creativity or set civilization back a few hundred years – at least in Europe. Other areas had their versions of pandemics. Some societies were exterminated. Others were decimated. Others recovered. That was the beginning of learning to wash our hands, but it took centuries until we knew the why and how of basic hygiene. But, we learned. At least the survivors did.
Insert your own existential crisis or historical episode in the Comments. This could be a book, but I’m only trying to catch some ideas in a post.
We thought the collapse of the Soviet Union was a triumph for democracy and a defeat for communism. Stay tuned for that while watching China, and also while watching democracies around the world. We could be in a transition that will discredit the use of labels. North Korea is a democratic republic? The United States and the United Kingdom aren’t acting very united. ‘Socialist’ Sweden is a kingdom. “Communist” China is officially a republic (which is acting very capitalistic.) Russia is a federation. Switzerland is a confederation. Out of more than 190 countries, only about a dozen are labeled democracies. The US (united or not) makes no such claims. Maybe that’s why we’re having an identity crisis.
I was in a telecon today. Once a week our real estate brokerage where I am a broker (was Tara, is Koetje, will be … something to be announced in a month or so) holds team meetings. Everyone has to get together to coordinate information. Now, a rapid retreat from meeting in person as we meet online instead. But, historically, it probably will be seen as an advance by necessity. Meetings weren’t necessary a hundred years ago. Economic and environmental conditions necessitated several such shifts. Information and services took over when factories failed or moved. Factories took over when farms failed and markets moved. Farms for profit were preceded by farms for subsistence which were preceded by hunting and gathering. Sometimes the moves were opportunities. Sometimes they were necessities. Sometimes they were both.
Someone asked me what I thought was going to happen with the real estate market on Whidbey Island because of the pandemic. They understandably wanted an answer for next week or month. I dodged and concentrated on now. Some people are backing off. Some people are more interested in moving to an island (Rural Distancing). The only thing I know for sure is that things won’t go back to ‘normal’. (Note: Gun sales are up, and I can hear semi-automatic rifle fire from about a mile and a half away.)
Currently, over 7,000 people have died from coronavirus. Just sticking to deaths by disease (not a pleasant topic, but that’s where we are): Small pox inspired vaccines. So did polio. HIV/AIDS changed the way some people lived and died; eventually leading to treatments, and also highlighting the reality of the diversity of relationships. ‘Gay’ rights (an overly restrictive term) joined civil rights, womens’ rights, and the realization that labels are terrible at sticking to people because people are people, not labels.
True crises and small events create permanent changes. We have never gone back to the way it was before.
Coronavirus has reached around the globe. (A fine reason for there to be a colony off-planet. Lifeboats, please.) There’s an economic oil war that’s largely hidden. Those two circumstances and a few other long term trends inspired the US Fed to drop its interest rates (which is more likely to affect banks than mortgages.) At the same time, political uncertainties in the US are mirroring upsets in other countries. Meaningless wars continue as police actions or covert actions or proxy battles. Social injustices are easier to recognize. The environment in which these are happening is an environment that is changing more slowly but more dramatically. Normal? Nothing’s normal.
Any one of those items is enough to caution guessing about the future. I know I’ll speculate more, but later.
Each threat is real. We’ll get through this – as long as we recognize that ‘we’ is a very general term, and that things will never go back to ‘normal’ because normal never existed.
Rather than trying to outguess every news item or rumor, I’m keeping in mind that by this time next year (2021), some things will look the same, some things will be different, and some things will be part of history.
In the meantime,
- Spend less than you make. (ALAYCPYB)
- Invest the rest.
- Wash your hands.
- Take care of yourself.
- Take care of your self.
- Take care of others.
A timely article about the history of hand-washing.
We are watching the Black Death 24 lectures from The Great Courses. Helps us gain perspective on the spread and effects of pandemics on human society. Looking for sociological view and historical effect not science. But The Great Courses Plus is offerieng free lectures on infectious diseases (24 lectures) and another on the coronavirus as well. These are scientific/medical in nature, just to keep us informed. Good to see you.