Pandemic Life

If You Feel Like The World is on Fire, it’s Because it is

Once vaccines stabilize the crisis, the gritty work begins

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

As COVID-19 vaccination numbers increase across the country, I’ve noticed two trending themes. While getting the shot, some people breakdown and cry with relief.

“I didn’t realize how isolated and devastated I was feeling but now, I’m just so grateful we can get back to normal,” an Iowa Statehouse candidate announced during a legislative Zoom meeting.

Uh, define normal?

Meanwhile, anti- mask, anti- vaccine protesters were rallying in the Statehouse Rotunda with their elementary school-age children who held signs that read, “COVID FREE ENTERPRISE,” and “Unmask Me.”

If I were a kid and my parents were brainwashing me with a radicalized conspiracy theory that the vaccine is actually a microchip, and that after the Deep State knocks off Sleepy Joe, President Harris plans to put us all in concentration camps — I’d be ditching school to revolt too. Who wouldn’t?

Both attitudes will doom us. Yes, it’s possible to get worse than it already is. Imagine living with this and like this forever? It could happen if we don’t start collectively pulling our shit together.

We’re either convinced getting a vaccine makes the world invincible or we outright refuse to be a part of the solution.

Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, we need these vaccines to stabilize. That’s right. Inoculation is merely a tool to stabilize the crisis. It’s not our savior. It’s intended to smother the flames so the actual work can begin, but we’re going to have to work together.

If we don’t find common ground, we’ll continue to speed up a virus that’s destroying us. The same as we’ve done for the past year.

There are three steps in crisis stabilization: Put out the fire, debrief to reduce trauma and assess the damage. Then, we need to recover from the damage, if we survive the damage.

The toll of a virus that’s still spreading is unforeseeable. Red states are lifting mitigation measures too soon. They’re fanning the flames and clearing a path for the next wave of infections.

As the pandemic goes on, there are a few issues starring us in the face already, and they have been since COVID-19 began pillaging America a year ago. Issues are obstacles, and so far it appears the game plan is to dodge them as best as we can. In typical U. S. reactive fashion, we’d prefer to ignore it until it blows up in our faces.

The long-term effects of COVID-19

This topic can branch out in many directions, but I’m specifically referring to health, both physical and emotional.

What country thrives with a buckling healthcare system, 29.2 million infected Americans (and counting) who may or may not have long-term chronic health issues, and millions more who went without preventative healthcare for a year or longer? — None.

And this is just our present circumstance. Who knows how long the virus will live among us. The impact on our health could cause our economy to cripple for generations.

Not to mention, we have no guarantee vaccines will work. There isn’t enough conclusive real-time data yet. Right now, we’re basing success on projection models and research studies.

The pandemic brought social issues to the surface

Modern day social issues in America are the same problems we’ve been stuffing since the beginning of time. Racial disparities, injustice and inequality, shitbag elected officials, white supremacy, underserved communities, lack of a living wage, child poverty and every other obvious problems we’ve ignored. We’re too busy raving that our country is the best country in the world.

Our economy is in the toilet, and if a pandemic didn’t highlight how our government serves big business while they force the little guy to sink or swim, nothing will.

If most of the American people weren’t poor enough, now we’re even poorer. There were those of us who were getting by. Maybe we were even lucky enough to stash a few bucks away for retirement, but not anymore, and probably never again.

Those who were living in poverty are now suffering from limited public and non-profit resources because a drained food bank leaves nowhere left to turn.

The six-figure annual salary guys are still living large. They either buy a Lamborghini with COVID relief funds or escape to Cancun amid a statewide natural disaster. Man, some things just never change.

In a country where nothing matters more than money, as proven by our former president, the average American is struggling to keep the roof over our heads, at least the rooftops that haven’t burned or ripped to shreds because we can’t shake a recurrence of natural disasters.

Our government isn’t functioning

I think it’s safe to say that The Republican Party left the building when Trump did. We watched the Grand Old Party transform into the Grand Qanon Party right before our eyes, and for years.

The entire world witnessed the Jan. 6th Capitol insurrection, thanks to the internet and social media livestream. Trump’s grand finale felt like the worst of the worst, but here we are, over two months later, and his “take over the world” saga just won’t end.

Republican legislatures are pushing voter suppression bills and amendments granting firearms to anything with a pulse. This is an actual plan to secure the future of their party, not America.

At this stage, it’s best to work around them. They’re a hinder. They’re preventing any progress from happening.

I feel for President Biden. Props to him for remaining focused on his “First 100 Days” mission while The Republican Party does nothing but combat him and behave as if D.C. is a three-ring circus.

They’re derailing any shot of normalcy, sanity, safety, equality and security for the rest of us. So much for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and defending The Constitution, and fulfilling an oath of office, and so on.

There isn’t a vaccination that will save us from The Republican agenda, which has nothing to do with the salvation of our nation.

We’re f*cking tired

We’re fucking tired of all of it. We’ve been dealing with this shit for a year now. Pandemic fatigue is sucking the life out of us. How long can we truly survive like this before we snap?

Now we’re expected to muster up the energy to bounce back?

Not only are we tired, but we’re stressed, traumatized, isolated and barely hanging on. The emotional impact of the life altering side effects of a polarized virus has the potential to be catastrophic.

We’re going to need time to process, recoup and adjust once — and if — the dust settles. As individuals, we’ll need to figure out where we go from here and what that means to each of us. As a country, we’ll need to learn how to function.

Imagine staying awake for an entire year and then being forced to run up a mountain for the sake of saving our country? Humans aren’t equipt with that level of natural adrenaline. It’ll prove even more challenging because the way the previous administration handled the virus robbed us of the things in our lives that help us thrive.

Post-pandemic life won’t look like pre-pandemic life

Pre-pandemic life is our history, but it’s not our future. We’ve done too much damage. We blew it with our “every man for himself” approach.

We’ve wasted opportunities to unify. We have a new president, a new administration, an empowering leadership tone and a genuine game plan based on science, and we still can’t come together for the greater good.

COVID-19 is causing too much damage. We won’t bounce back to a time we once knew or the people we used to be. The sooner we accept this as a fact, the sooner we can move forward. We lost lives, families are homeless and starving, jobs disappeared because businesses are closing, we segregated the weak and violence is trending.

We can’t just put a deadly virus, economic depression, civil unrest, inequality, political crisis, suppression and a steady flow of natural disasters back inside of Pandora’s box, close the lid and call it good.

There are things we can do today, right now in this moment, to reduce the impact of more damage yet to come.

We can follow the science and not the politics. We can use the simple tools we have to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing our hands to the tune of OCD, social distancing, avoid gatherings and stay home when we’re sick.

We can leave our assault rifles and anti-everything militia at home when it’s our turn to get vaccinated because it’s not a matter of opinion. It’s a matter of our survival. It’s our existence.

We can treat each other with decency.

We can all do our part now, and until the gritty work begins.

Behavioral Science ed/ reporter in Eastern Iowa. Informed and opinionated. My hobbies include petting cats, research and farming.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store