This editorial was published in Bloomington Pantagraph.
Even as we prepare to reopen Illinois and celebrate a victory over a virus, we can take a few things away from the experiences of the last 18 months.
But before we do that, we need to devote some time to return to being a society.
We’re not talking here about revising our manners of behavior, although that’s worth examining as well. Rather, it’s time to show our fellow citizens a little patience as everyone re-acclimates to 2019 standards. It’s not that long ago, but 18 months is even longer when we consider how much we’ve been yelling at and criticizing one another.
Public events are coming back in full. If it suits your desire, there’s not a long wait until you can be part of a crowd at a concert or a church or a play, watching a movie, exploring a festival or visiting an adult beverage station. There will likely be a bit of awkwardness, and we’re going to have to start reading social cues again, and that will take a little time.
But those concerns combined can’t overcome the delight of being part of society again. While a few may have realized how little they need other people, the majority of us are social creatures, and we thrive when we’re around other people.
We’ve also learned ways to better take care of ourselves. The “Dracula” sneeze/cough – turning away and coughing into the crook of your elbow – was becoming more the norm pre-COVID, and we all should be doing it by now. We received enough reminders about how to wash our hands and how we need to touch our faces as seldom as possible. Those should be becoming second nature.
While vaccinations have somehow become politicized, we shouldn’t ignore their track record. Incidents of typhoid, cholera and smallpox – to name just three diseases – are minimal in the United States, largely thanks to mass vaccination. Flu cases were down last year. Whether that was a result of vaccinations, less direct contact with other people or a fluke, we may have learned some lessons that will serve us better in the future.
In addition, taking advantage of remote workplaces, we may have found that some people are more productive outside of the office. Employers accepting that as a reality would be a boon to the workforce.
Unfold your pants, pull your shorts out of storage, remember to use sunscreen, and enjoy the coming months. We’ve learned how precious they are.