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HOYT PURVIS: After the pandemic

Foggy days ahead as nation adjusts by Hoyt Purvis | June 2, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

The after-effects of the pandemic are widespread. The impact is significant and will continue for a long time.

We celebrate – and justifiably so -- having basically conquered the devastating virus after a stumbling start.

It should be understood, however, that there are many currents and undercurrents involved in what emerges from this prolonged postponement in our lives. I have written earlier about how the pandemic stole portions of our lives and time.

In the dawning of these post-pandemic days, we can find promising signs of the seasons, from baseball to cherry blossoms and flower gardens. School children may now have much-needed regularity and reliability in their lives. Grocery stores and gas stations are oddly and sometimes vaguely familiar. And we should still be sure to have masks when appropriate and to maintain other cautionary procedures. Vaccinations remain essential.

It is also a time to recognize this current period can have its own -- though broadly dispersed -- form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Very quickly, let me make clear that I am not saying the post-pandemic period is a parallel to PTSD. What I am saying is there are similarities in the aftermath of events that have demonstrated our post-pandemic period can have its own impact. Many hope to restore and resume what they see as "normal," although it may not always be a smooth process.

PTSD provides an example of the effects that can result from the "cultural issues," – race relations and civil rights, gun "rights," the role of media, immigration, abortion. Our involvement in Vietnam and Afghanistan in particular has cast long shadows and left many who have been affected by PTSD.

These strikingly stressful effects and their tragic consequences upturn lives and reflect political divisions that in turn make way for authoritarian control and violent protests, the most notable, of course, being the insurrection and the riotous attack on the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.

Most congressional Republicans and their leaders opposed a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack and the roles played by various individuals and fringe groups. That opposition came despite the fact that the legislation was backed by a non-partisan group that conceived the proposed investigation.

There were exceptions, however, which are a rarity in Washington these days. One of those who stood against the tide was Republican Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers. He favored a commission. As Womack said, there are many unanswered questions. The American people deserve to know the truth and to ensure such an occurrence will never take place again.

Astoundingly, there are those who insist that the jarring insurrection did not really happen, even though there is a vast quantity of information documenting what occurred that day, including extensive and vivid video evidence of the brutality involved.

Womack said the plan had been for a bipartisan commission that would be fair and transparent. Apparently, however, political potency on the Republican side prevailed, as was also the case with Rep. Liz Cheney, who was dumped by Republican leaders from her position within the top ranks of the GOP.

While many Americans try to comprehend these political gyrations, those who have mostly weathered covid and its devastating impact should avoid drifting into political passivity or misguided activism.

As the American people attempt to sort out the dizzying developments resulting from the re-opening of business, entertainment and day-to-day commerce, we should not overlook the broader societal change that is occurring.

We find ourselves at a crossroads once again. And Donald Trump is doing the best he can to stir discord, manipulate facts, pit groups against each other and serve as a megaphone for distortion.

In the coming days we will likely hear and see more about "cancel culture" and the "culture war" or related terms. Cancel culture is not a concept that the gang hanging out around the bar will be discussing knowledgeably.

Many cannot find their place in a changing and sometimes trendy society that can move quickly. And there are fringe elements who reject mainstream politics and readily accept conspiracy theories.

All of this should point the way for a society that is inclusive and not motivated by partisan political motives. Some day we may better understand or acknowledge how we got to where we are.

Some of us may be able to step right into our former lives, jobs, families or sports. Others, it seems, are ill at ease and discover things are different. They can't easily find their bearings in the post-covid society, where there is rejection of social and cultural norms of behavior and a rising tide of hate crime and targeted attacks based on ethnicity -- such as the wave of anti-Semitic violence we are witnessing.

Many of us want simply to restore and resume. These are the normalists. Some of this occurs on the margins of our lives, but nearly all of us need some degree of adjustment.

These trends and developments are segments of the broader matrix. They should include a renewed effort, with positive leadership, to build appreciation for the rich diversity of our society, with mutual respect to help guide us through a positive post-pandemic period.

Now, as we emerge, we are confronted by a society in which we need to see beyond the fogginess of the pandemic days.


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