We are living a lie.
Two of them, actually.
One is a chronic self-deception that we can see every day as we go about our lives working, shopping, playing.
The other is a less tangible — but deadly — self-delusion.
Some of us sense where these lies will take us, but feel powerless to do much about it. That’s what happens when you’re outnumbered by ignorance and selfishness.
Lie № 1:
The pandemic is over and we should resume living the way we did before more than 700,000 Americans died.
We now feel free to move about the country, to capacity-crowd sporting events, concerts and busy restaurants.
In September I attended a Major League Baseball game and saw very few fellow mask-wearers among 30,000 people. Were they all fully vaccinated? I doubt it. Only 58 percent of Americans are in that category.
Pandemic fatigue has settled in. Even with 70,000 new cases daily and more than 1,300 deaths per day from COVID-19 or its complications, we have given up.
In my Central New York county during Halloween weekend, seven people died of COVID-19, including a teenager.
We are still in danger of breakout infections that may not be fatal to the vaccinated, but still keep the virus and its variants in play as we head into winter and more time in enclosed spaces.
Posted signs on businesses, whether gentle requests or stern directives, are literally window dressing.
Over the weekend, I shopped at two local businesses — a popular grocery store that politely asks people to wear masks, and a thrift store that had posted a large sign stating masks are required and anyone not wearing one will be asked to leave.
In both places, maskless customers were common. No one said a word to them.
Apparently it has become too difficult, too much of a hassle, to ask people to care about anyone other than themselves, much less expect them to do so without being asked.
Which, of course, is at the root of Lie № 2.
The planet is fine, climate change is a hoax. What, me worry?
We can’t see the glaciers melting from our homes, we don’t live where there are hurricanes and so what if island nations where “those people” live are under water in 20 years. Not our problem.
We are surrounded by myopia. Ignorance.
For all the platitudes issued by politicians of all stripes, they are only concerned about the midterm elections of 2022. Will I stay in power? What about my ego, my approval ratings, my income, my government pension?
They count on the nation’s short attention span and an inability or unwillingness to see beyond next month. The planet? Who has time to think about that?
It’s likely that my fellow baby boomers and I will have checked out before the worst effects of climate change are felt — and acknowledged — everywhere.
I’m frightened for the next generations, in particular (and selfishly so) my sons and grandchildren.
My time with them is limited and precious and I try to forget about reality, forget about the lie that we’re living.
My grandchildren aren’t old enough to be aware of what lies ahead, but in their presence I feel despair along with abundant joy. I am in awe watching their little brains decipher every experience, every minute, every second, their neurons processing stimuli at incredible speeds … and I am sad knowing that their future likely will be far more difficult than I can imagine.
The principle of “seven generations” in the Great Law of the Iroquois — with every decision you make, consider the well-being of the seventh generation to come after you — seems so naive, so far out of reach.
In 2020, Americans fought over toilet paper in well-lit, air-conditioned grocery stores. And soon we will witness the pathetic annual ritual of Black Friday superstore brawls over deep-discount flat screen TVs.
The bar in America is pretty low indeed.
It’s an awful feeling knowing that my grandchildren, these precious and innocent human beings, may live in a country where they must routinely defend themselves against violence and domestic terrorism.
Next time, the fights will not be over flat-screen TVs, but over supplies of food, drinkable water and — ironically — access to vaccines.
It’s not a script for another bad apocalyptic movie. It is soon to be our reality.
We are living a lie. And I don’t have faith that the people we have elected and put in charge have the ability — the courage — to face the truth and do anything about it.