On the old Sullivan Show, there was a reoccurring act where a person would spin plates on about a half dozen rods on a table — thinner and longer than pool cues — and try to keep the plates spinning while juggling or spinning other plates on the table. The performer would constantly be running around keeping the plates spinning so they would never drop.
That’s the way I feel about our current world.
Our focus keeps switching from the plates of our concerns: the indefatigable virus, the horror of the continuous police atrocities, the economy, the push to relax our restrictions, the ineptitude of the federal response to all of this.
And all the while we’re juggling between the new world of grocery shopping, gas filling, deciding on our own priorities, sensibilities, and rules now that things are open again, when we really know that these new opportunities are not really based on science.
A study came out yesterday that said that Americans haven’t been this unhappy in 50 years.
Did we really need a study? (I’m thinking the money and human power the survey cost the University of Chicago could have fed some people in the Windy City and make them a wee bit happier.)
It also said that 14% of the respondents said they we’re “very happy.” I’d like to be taking what they’re taking.
In an earlier post Our House is a Very, Very, Very Fine House, I wrote about the ability to compartmentalize our brains and deal with conflicting emotions simultaneously. At that point, we were in the peak of the wave and at the same time, we couldn’t move into our new home because the kitchen cabinet company was shut down. How do we cope with both realities and not feel guilty about not moving in?
Now, I’m not so sure. This current period is not as simple. In April, we didn’t have much choice. We were all shut in together. We had roughly the same level of concerns. We were 100% focused on the virus. We had scientists, like Dr. Faucci, at least talking to us daily and we believed he had a great deal of influence.
Our conflicts were mostly in our minds because our reality was singularly rooted in staying alive.
As my fingers touch the keyboard most mornings these days, I’m conflicted. I need to keep the move for social justice at the forefront of my thinking. It is both severely tragic and yet at the precipice of the most significant and hopeful change in our country’s history. We can not lose momentum or be deflected.
And yet, COVID remains catastrophic with the potential of becoming significantly more deadly in the coming weeks and months, with no cure in site, and no real new information or science to help guide and ease us. The figures we’re seeing are all over the place now. People are becoming lax and giving into the temptations of a more normal world not yet ready to serve.
We have no national leadership we can trust as the virus has become just another political issue like Ukrainian corruption or a wall on our southern border. To boot, Dr. Fauci is now clearly sidelined and has lost influence. So, we fend for ourselves without guidance in a world far more complex than it was even a month ago.
When I was in driving school, Mr. McAlpine taught us about the Smith Driving Method. One of the tenets was, “Aim High In Steering.” In essence, our eyes were meant to look only at what was immediately in front of us — walking distance.
The Smith method called for you to look into your future — way down the road. You would then see what’s coming. (Though the way I drive, I’m not so sure you should take this advice.)
It’s a less elegant metaphor than Martin Luther King’s “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
I do believe if we take that long view and zoom out, we will see accelerated changes to the moral structure of America, which will have a major impact of unshackling the chains of history and bringing real equal opportunity to black families.
I also see “down the road” a cure for coronavirus and a new proactive, smart, federal political structure that will again, exhibit leadership, reassurance, and compassion
In the meantime, wash your hands, wear a mask, do smart physical distancing, follow the science, get involved and vote. And just keep spinning.
For your enjoyment:
Spinning Plates on the Ed Sullivan Show
Ball of Confusion by the Temptations
Baby You Can Drive My Car by the Beatles