“Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time. Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines.” — Roger Waters
Children ask the most fascinating questions. Our daughter is now entering high school, so her questions are more complex than they used to be. She asked a doozy the other day. She asked what we would tell our children and grandchildren about the pandemic. Every once in awhile I allow myself to go down that rabbit hole and this was one of those times.
It hit me like a ton of bricks when I was perusing my Facebook feed the other day. You get the unholy mixture of childhood friends reminiscing about childhood memories with a sudden heavy dose of Anthony Fauci. I’m not exactly sure why Fauci was on so many people’s minds, but the Facebook wall is a veritable Rorschach test of people’s thoughts and feelings.
In the span of just a few minutes of scrolling I found numerous posts that chastised people for doubting Fauci while others were poking fun at him. Strictly speaking, the future is yet unwritten and while we seem to be closer to the end than to the beginning of the pandemic we don’t know for sure how this will end. More than anything else, we don’t know if there will ever be a return to “normal”. They did following the 1918 flu epidemic (it is in fact 1918 despite what our former president said). It just took awhile.
We will be traveling and others will as well, but things are not back to normal. That might never return to normal. We might be looking at the new normal. Obviously, that will be a large part of the story we tell. It could be something as innocuous as telling them what we did during the two or three years of the pandemic or as earth shattering as telling them how we did things before all of the changes.
However, I think Fauci is the key to it all. How people view someone that has spent over 50 years studying infectious diseases is fascinating. We have a very clear divide in the population. Some exist in the current century as they trust subject experts to bring the most up to date information. Some exist in the dark ages where scientific information is met with distrust and disbelief. That information becomes replaced by rumor, innuendo, and “alternative facts”. The vast difference is that the internet seems to be the vector for both.
Specialization is almost as old as time itself. One could argue that job specialization could be the most significant advancement in society itself. Others will argue the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire. Some might argue for the domestication of animals or farming techniques. We each become subject experts in something and society gets by because we have everything covered. Apparently, that’s not good enough anymore.
At least, it’s not good enough for some people. It’s also not good enough for only some specialties. The ones that require more education and training are disdained. Instead some trust their gut. Some trust the random YouTube video from the neighborhood yahoo. They trust anyone but the people trained in this very thing. How our children explain that to their children and grandchildren will be fascinating from a historical perspective. In the here and now it’s just plain sad.