by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ February 21, 2021
Our world is new and strange in many ways. While many people are anxiously awaiting a return to the pre-pandemic world, many others are growing familiar with the pleasures of a new and different world. The experiences are very different and will, I think, only expand the gaps between the broken pieces of human society and the disintegration of American society specifically.
We spend so much time struggling to understand the social malignancy that has destroyed our governments that we miss the new pleasures. We are living in a new world. Our collision with the COVID pandemic concurrently with hyperobjects such as climate warming, economic disintegration, and the Western representative government’s failure has shattered us and launched the pieces on new trajectories.
We are not sure what we are and have no idea where we are going. We have started trying to gather our pieces in the normal human manner and pretend that nothing much has changed. But that is obviously not the case.
Just as people who have been badly shaken up will pick themselves up and announce that they are fine until the reality of their injuries puts them back down again. The modern Western model nation-states are now forced to look at the damage and find that it is not minor.
It has been an awful year after twenty years of shocks and tragedies. The pandemic produced a logarithmic increase in voltage on the human social equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider. This has also produced some new human particles with troubling characteristics but many new things to be discovered.
The amazing development of a range of completely new vaccines for the coronavirus that has killed millions in the last year is our ticket to the new world. Your first injection of one of the mRNA-engineered vaccines developed from scratch, tested, and distributed after roughly nine months is a ticket to the future and not a return to our past that died a lingering death in lockdown.
Not many people have been writing about this because the vaccinated totals are still low, except for country exceptions. But I have had conversations about this with my wife and a few employees, almost all of who received early vaccines due to age, health conditions, or essential worker status. I just received my first today.
When you have your CDC injection card and your second injection date, you realize both relief and wonder at what this means. We know people are skipping the second injection in many places primarily because of misinformation or poorly understood scientific terminology about statistical success rates and unknowns.
This has a profound effect on successful herd immunity that may be already beyond reach, but my concern is the psychological result of refusing to enter the new world. This is refusing to board the lifeboat for those who will fall prey to current or evolving COVID SARS versions. Many will die, and many will deal with months if not years of complex complications that are part of this disease. The consequences are known for them, and they are a social burden for the rest of us.
Just as the rising social psychosis among a significant percentage of the population that has resulted from active propaganda disguising personal and small elite group gain caused a rejection of science and the reality of the pandemic, it now fosters vaccination rejection.
The contemporary conspiracist forces are centered in those populations most challenged by accelerating social change. These are the most prone to modern conspiracy because they cannot understand what is happening and feel tied to old social structures. Another related group cannot accept ambiguity and relative change. Modern conspiracies give all the answers in black and white in a poisonous brew of constantly shifting perspectives. There is much irony there.
These are the same people actively denying the future just as they have been for many decades, but now they are rejecting the gateway to a profoundly different future. What is that future?
In these conditions predicting the future is much harder than in stable times. I can say that the first surprise on receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine is how pleasant it is to relax. We adapt very well. The last year of confusion, fear, and anxiety, layered with political disasters in places under authoritarian mobs' control, had become normal and endlessly routine.
The worry about our loved ones, extended family, friends, and neighbors focused on those at high risk of severe COVID infection weighs you down even if you don’t think about it consciously. Being in the high-risk group due to age, we know our friends and older relatives are also stressed, but there is really nothing that we can say. For three months, this has been only brief discussions of vaccination scheduling or the lack of a state and city schedule.
I found the first hint of what this feels like when my wife was scheduled and then completed both doses. With my schedule and first injection, I rediscovered a level of relaxation that I had forgotten existed. Life is still dangerous, but the future has had a monstrous threat reduced to manageability.
Those refusing the vaccines will not have this, but they will not know that. It should be similar to the annual flu shots at the simplest level, but it is much more than that. The larger ramifications of the vaccine as a gateway to the future the meaning of the new mRNA vaccines and their fast adaptability to evolving coronavirus variations.
Future mRNA vaccine technology may allow for one vaccine to provide protection for multiple diseases, thus decreasing the number of shots needed for protection against common vaccine-preventable diseases.
Beyond vaccines, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells. CDC.gov
On the political level, the need to manage public health free of capitalist-driven greed has been made very clear. The disasters from corrupt, incompetent, and bigoted governments are not unrelated to our daily lives. They mean mass death and mass misery. That must be prevented.
As the climate disaster slowly overwhelms us, we have just seen how the same incompetent and dysfunctional governments cannot manage any level of disaster, let alone multiple levels. Pandemics and climate disasters go together. People are directly are of that now and will see this repeated again and again.
The old acceptance of failing political systems exacerbates an age of constantly expanding danger. All levels of government need to have political demagoguery and fringe ideology removed. Texas is a nice example, with the arctic cold front coinciding with pandemic failures due to political stupidity due to failed ideology.
On the social level, while we don’t know how this will all work out, commerce, work, government, and education will certainly begin to assume their new forms. These will be more flexible and also braced for future pandemic and climate disasters. A distributed decentralized work structure is more resilient and more diverse by definition.
Too many people have learned the value and convenience of online commerce. Restaurants and bars will return, but many won’t. Spreading out from forced living close as possible to a workplace reduces stress carbon footprints. That will be retained.
While the most problematic old-world managers will attempt to force people back into the nine to five in an office, they will fail. We will have far greater freedom to decide when we will travel to work and social events or participate virtually. Without the burden of lockdowns, we will learn to savor our new freedoms.
The complex problem of online tech monopolies will become clearer. These need to become part of our planetary ‘commons’ and not greed-driven or exploitive. This will see a rise of national and international regulation on common models with, I predict, a strong move to public ownership.
The government has been replaced by corporate virtual communities such as Facebook that need to be replaced with publicly owned and controlled institutions. This is a major change but is coming quickly as the monolithic tech companies' failure to care about human well-being, just as traditional western governments have failed, calls for a redesigned movement into democratic virtuality.
These are the things hiding in the small vaccination passports being distributed as part of the transformation from the pandemic. And these new health passports may well become part of the virtual world, identifying us a safe for group activities. That is already starting to happen, and the public health benefits of that are immense in fast-changing and warming planetary climate.
While the relief of becoming COVID immune is greater than you anticipate, the resulting changes will be more transformative than we yet realize.