Bad news everybody: turns out we’re going to die. Everyone of us. No exceptions. Sorry to have to break it to you this way, but I’m a “rip the bandage off as quickly as possible” kind of guy.
Not sure of the exact dates of demise of course, but despite all of our valiant efforts over the last fifteen months, death has not been eradicated. You survived infection after catching the Covid vaccine? That’s great. You’re still going to die. You want to keep wearing your mask for the rest of your life? Terrific. The important thing to remember is that the phrase “the rest of your life” always ends in a full stop.
It’s ironic, but the healthier a society and the more a society is successful in identifying and minimizing risk, the more risk-averse society becomes.
America is now at a point where millions of its citizens are not only willing to sacrifice many of the joys of life in hopes of extending existence by a few years, most of this group firmly believes that everyone else should be morally and legally obligated to share their fearful, neurotic views.
Risk and living – truly living – are intertwined. Attempting to lead a risk-free life is not living, it’s mere existence, reducing what should be an adventure into panic-room level exercise in survival. As a general rule, most Americans have grown ever worse at reasonably assessing and responding to risk issues. Fear among average American citizens seems to grow in inverse proportion to our increasing ability to identify and manage risks.
There is no shortage of self-interested organizations and corporations willing and able to advance narratives that exploit the current climate of fear. Environmental NGOs can’t wait to paint the slightest potential hazard in apocalyptic terms. With few exceptions, politicians of all stripes willingly accept such narratives, sensing the votes that come along with going along. The vast majority of journalists, with little to no personal understanding of foundational technical issues are naturally inclined to support whichever position the left adopts and insists upon.
This trio of special interests are thus able to create “realities” that are detached from reality. In general, the more technically advanced the topic, the more emboldened the triumvirate of fear feels emboldened to push their particular agendas.
We’ve just undergone fifteen months of risk-avoidance on overdrive. It will be some time before sober, credible sources who do not have an agenda will provide accurate assessments of how well prevention-of-transmittal measures balance out against the societal and economic costs of those policies. I truly do not know how that valuation will come out. However, I am certain that anyone attempting to define that valuation at this point is engaged in speculation, not science.
Were we needlessly and overly cautious? As I said, we can’t be sure at this this point. My speculation: probably, but that’s water under the dam. Time to move on. Moving on means accepting victory, rejecting an eternal state of emergency and emergency powers, and starting to address the risk/reward proposition in rational terms again.
From everything I can discern and based on what the CDC is now saying, if you have either: 1) survived Covid infection, or 2) had one of the vaccines, you’re good to go mask-free in public. Surely certain businesses like restaurants and airlines will continue to require masks for a while and that’s just fine. In a free society, everyone can choose or not choose to wear masks in privately-held venues and suffer the consequences if their preference doesn’t align with venue policy. This is analogous to how we can choose or not choose to wear shirts and shoes while expecting service in a convenience store. The markets will figure it out in the long run.
The point is that the “big-mask” era is drawing to a close and we will finally be able to shout “Free at last! Free at last!” once more. What comes next is up to us.