President Trump is catching heat from just about all corners for his expressed hope that the country can start working and producing again by Easter.
Easter! That’s only a few weeks away! How is that possible, people wonder, when COVID-19 cases are still exploding and it doesn’t appear safe to resume any sort of public or private gatherings?
It’s a reasonable question and, frankly, it’s hard for me to see how we’re up and running by Easter the way President Trump would like to see.
For one thing, it’s not up to him. The hunker-down orders have come from state governors, and it’s the governors who will decide when it’s safe to revoke the orders. They’re not going to do so on a specific schedule because President Trump wants them to.
And the president himself is not declaring that this will be safe to do by Easter. He’s simply expressing his hope. If it’s not safe, he will be the first to say it shouldn’t happen.
Even so, his optimism is badly needed. As a nation, it’s essential that we be able to look ahead and see our way past this and back to better times. The national psyche desperately needs that.
Right now, the daily deluge is all about infection numbers, death numbers, staying home, social distancing and sheltering in place. The only national goal we seem to have at the moment is staying alive and not getting sick. And yes, that must be the priority right now.
But that is not what built this country, and that is not what we’re made of.
America is a nation of producers and risk-takers. It is not in our nature to stop producing and avoid risk. We’re only a few days into the harshest of the lockdown orders in certain states, and we haven’t even reached the point where this has to happen everywhere. We’ve not yet reached the point where people are running out of things and going stir-crazy. If this goes on for many weeks, it will get a lot harder for people to resist snapping.
One thing that will help, though, is if people can see their way clear to the other side of this.
What goals do you have for the summer? For the second half of the year? For the decade that’s just started? What were you sure you were going to do in 2020 that perhaps you can still do once it’s safe to live as we’re used to living?
When President Trump talks about getting things rolling again, he’s signaling to the country that this is not some sort of “new normal” that we should just kick back and accept. We may have no choice but to do it in this moment, but why even bother if we can’t anticipate once again doing what we did before?
We should look forward to going to work, going to ballgames, going to the movies, going shopping, going to concerts . . . just going. No one’s doing much going right now because all we hear all day long is that we have to stop. We’re not a nation of stoppers. Psychologically we have to believe that before too much longer we can get going again.
And it’s important to know that our president wants us to do that, and that he doesn’t want this to go on one day longer than it needs to.
That doesn’t mean we all rush out prematurely, or that we disregard the lives of those at risk. There are people spinning the president’s words as “sacrificing lives for 401(k)s.” That is not what he’s saying at all and that’s a ridiculous mischaracterization.
He’s simply saying that, yes, our desire to get back to our real lives is a valid one, that he supports it and that we should look forward to it with eager expectation. I for one am glad someone is telling us this matters, and I’m glad that someone is the president.
Envisioning life after coronavirus will help all of us get through this.