Wednesday, June 23, 2021

June 23 Already?!


July 4 is less than two weeks away, our regular July vacation less than two weeks after that — and then it’s August, which nobody really likes because it has zero holidays and the whole month is about counting down the last days of summer and a return to school.

They call it “the dog days of August” for a reason, you know. What that is, I’m not sure, but it sounds lazy and a little depressed, doesn’t it?

So Summer ‘21 feels kinda half over, already.

One thing I am thankful for this year — at least it’s not “LOCK YOUR DOORS AND STAY INSIDE, THE VIRUS IS ON THE LOOSE!!!” 

The summer of ‘20 — the Lockdown Summer — was awful, and nobody in our family even caught the virus. An entire summer with nowhere to go and nothing to do. As it turns out, leaving the house to congregate in public with others, where you can eat and drink and enjoy life away from the crushing grind for just a few hours, is an essential part of life just like breathing. Who knew?! 

Well, I did, for starters,  and I assumed everyone else understood it too. Apparently it was less well understood than I’d realized.

Here’s another thing I didn’t realize — some of our elected leaders are a little quick on the draw with the executive orders under a declared emergency, the timeline and parameters of which are helpfully defined by them. Funny how that works. We are now on our 15th emergency 30-day order from our wonderful governor — unchallenged by the legislature or the courts — who is totally just trying to keep us all alive because he’s just  super-duper concerned about our health. Right? Right!

I understand that trying to change behavior in big groups of people — an entire state of 12.5M people, let’s say — is tricky. You can just order people to do A and B but not C, but this doesn’t work all that well without first getting buy-in. The best way to produce lasting changes in attitudes, which then naturally leads to changes in behavior, is to inform people. People should believe in the things they are asked to do, the sacrifices they are asked to make. 

What we saw last year instead was coercion, and in a public health context in a society built on freedom that is far too draconian a step. I saw several stories about parents arrested at parks and other public places, because they defied some ridiculous order to stay indoors, when the most sensible and safest place to be is always outdoors. 

Outdoors vs. Indoors ... do we really need to have that conversation? It seems we do, because it seems the wonders of being outdoors are not fully appreciated by everyone: fresh air and sunshine and lots of it, with no walls and ceilings to trap dangerous stuff floating in the air, and far fewer gross germ-covered doorknobs or steering wheels for us to place our gross germ-covered hands.

Also, the outdoors is very very big. Have you seen the outdoors? Take a good look. Up, down, all around, way up high and all around you for miles. It’s very, very big. Incomprehensibly so, for our limited brains. This means there are lots and lots of air molecules out there to dilute any viruses and other unpleasant things floating about. That dilution is one of the main advantages of the outdoors in the first place, along with the sunshine and oxygen-producing green growing things and whatnot. 

All of this matters, and it matters a lot, because we have immune systems that protect us against random small doses of this or that. Your immune system is built for exactly this purpose and does that job well, as long as you take care of it.

Being outside is always good for you, virus or no virus. 

The indoors, on the other hand, is ... not. It’s an enclosed area where germs, bacteria, viruses, you name it,  live comfortably side by side with us human beings. Indoors is literally the last place you should spend a lot of time, if health — mental, physical, and emotional — is a priority. It frankly stuns and concerns me that so many of us are so complacent and easily trained to believe something so wrong about what is good for our health and what is not.

One additional note: Illinois is already losing population faster than every state but one. I suspect that treating citizens and taxpayers like prisoners who should be thankful for the daily exercise break in the prison yard is going to speed up that trend, not slow it down.