No. 20 ~ Somerville ~ Dec. 20, 2020

A time of mixed messages

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. . .” — the first lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens understood what it’s like to live with mixed messages, and we had our share of them on “V” Day, Monday the 14th — so baptized for the administration of the first vaccines against Covid-19 in the U.S. 

It was on Monday that the Pfizer-BioNTech ultracold vaccines rolled out across the country, albeit in modest quantities, and hope for an end to the pandemic rolled across the country with them, while as many as 40% of Americans say they are not interested in being vaccinated. 

The Electoral College voted to make the Biden/Harris victory official; upwards of 77% of Trump voters still say they think Trump won. 

After a time in office that will be remembered for its limitless sycophancy, Bill Barr, forced out of the Justice Department for acknowledging the real outcome of the election, showered Trump with praise in his resignation letter. 

The coronavirus continues to take advantage of our house divided. Some of us wear masks and invent vaccines; some, maskless, spread the disease. Some want to hold off being vaccinated until we see what happens to others — wanting more field trial results — but we are already running a field trial, however poorly fashioned it may be. The results: when too many people don’t toe the line, and our leaders step away from responsibility, 300,000 die, and we have a quarter of a million new infections a day. 

Today we learn that a mutation in the U.K. forced Londoners into an emergency lockdown. European countries are lining up to close travel links with the English, threatening a Brexit to the second power: no trade, no people. In France, President Emmanuel Macron is negotiating Brexit and fighting the pandemic from the presidential retreat in Versailles, where he is isolated with fatiguing symptoms of Covid-19. And here in Massachusetts, one of the top states in the country for protocol compliance, the positive test rate has ticked up from less than 1% to more than 6%, just since we returned to Somerville in mid-October. 

Our days of wearing masks and wishing we weren’t, of being apart when we want to be together, of losing loved ones while we try to stay healthy — these days are not over. But, for the holidays, at least I can send a wish and be assured of my message. Tomorrow is winter solstice. For the next six months, each day, we will have a little more Light to see us through. 

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
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