I wanted to share this piece written by John Frey, my brother.
LIVING BEHIND A MASK IN A STATE OF DISARRAY
I get it. I recognize just how important these measures are to our tenuous hold on life. COVID is real, I don’t dispute that, and mandatory mask wearing and the like are the best ways to at least slow down its progress and, as they say, “flatten the curve”. I accept the science and support the powers that be in their efforts to attempt to keep us safe at every possible cost. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, or to go quietly into the night accepting the cost that this may ultimately take in our human interactions. To the contrary, while we all must accept the changes that we are now subject to, we must equally recognize the ultimate threat that what is happening now may ultimately change our lives when the threat is over, and perhaps change the lives of generations to follow.
What of the disarray that it has made of our lives? How do we measure that in the long run, or even in the short term? What are we doing to our children by keeping them from socializing in schools? What will be the long term effects of keeping us locked in our houses? How can we survive rules that keep us “a social distance” apart and encourage limited contact with fellow members of our human race?
I accept the science and believe that all of this is vitally necessary now, but I remain adrift on what will be left of life when COVID is conquered and we are free to return to life as we previously knew it, or at least thought we did? What if we don’t remember? What of the sweetness of touching one another? Will we forget how to do that? What of interacting we each other intensively at things like theatres or grand sporting events? What about intimate dinners and drinks with someone you are just getting to know and perhaps fall in love with?
Will we forget how to do all these things? Will a post-COVID society be the new society, the new normal? Will we be condemned to a life of wariness and fear? It is not what immediate havoc this pandemic has wrought that is the problem. The problem is the state of permanent disarray that we will be left with. Will we have nothing but the ashes of long gone memories, unable to restore the sweetness of what life was before we condemned ourselves to lives of loneliness, fear, and separation?
I suggest it is time to not only remember what we had, but to record it for the future lives of all of us and those who follow. Talk and write of the sweetness of life. Write and remember intimacy with our fellow humans. Write and remember the richness of sharing space and shaking hands, of going off to school and work without the fear of spreading deadly germs. Remember the richness of taking minimal risks while being part of raucous crowds. Record what it was like go on a blind date or to a house party, where you will know but a few of the attendees when you first arrive.
There is no question that society as a whole is struggling mightily to contain and ultimately defeat the horrid threat of COVID. I applaud those efforts. The steps we are taking, may or may not be exactly correct or nearly enough, but we are ethically and intellectually bound to take them. Likewise, when we have won, if indeed we do win, we are equally bound to try to restore our societies to some semblance of what we had before, perhaps even eliminating some of the bad and replacing with good as recognition of the fight that we have fought.
We must wear masks for as long as is necessary, but we must also remember to tear them off as quickly as we can when the threat is gone. The sweetness of life demands it.