I haven’t felt well this weekend so I’ve spent most of it in bed, bingeing on Netflix, and babying my stomach with ginger ale and ramen. No fever, no respiratory symptoms so I doubt it’s Covid, just one of the usual cruds that we all tend to pick up now and again. I figure one more good night’s sleep and I should be ready to face next week. I put off most of my to do list this weekend other than the few things I had to get done – the only one that remains is writing the talk I’m giving to the church adult education program this next week on the impact of Alzheimer’s on caregivers and family systems. I have most of it in my head but I will need to get an outline down on paper in order to not sound like a complete idiot Tuesday evening when I fire up my Zoom camera. With a quiet weekend, I’ve done some catching up on my coronavirus reading, leafing through articles on treatments, promising and not so promising, vaccine development, and current epidemiological trends. After doing that for a few hours, I usually emerge with a combination of anger that the adults in our society who were in a position to do something about all of this thoroughly abdicated their responsibilities because it’s hard stuff, and sadness at the difficulties that we will all continue to bear until the adults in the room decide that the lives of ordinary people are at least equal in importance to the wealth of the few.
The latest round of news stories over the opening of colleges and universities cements this. It’s become pretty clear that the money flowing through academia is more important than the lives and safety of faculty, staff, and students in a lot of cases. (My university, UAB, appears to be trying to do things correctly but I cannot say that of all institutions of higher learning…) And there seems to be a societal tendency to blame the students for misbehaving when they simply act like college students. Young adults in their late teens and early 20s do not have fully developed frontal lobes and are not yet capable of fully understanding the consequences of their actions. Humans have known this for millennia (it’s why frat boys think lighting the couch on fire and tossing it off the roof is a great idea). You don’t get all those neural connections until age 25 or so. College students aren’t capable of making the choices we’re trying to force on them and the adults that should be making those choices are pushing them off on young people and then blaming them when they aren’t made in the wisest fashion. It’s just one of the hundred and one ways in which mature generations are shafting the future out of selfish motives.
I’ve written before that I believe this is an unintended consequence of social attitudes put in place in the 30s and 40s. From October of 1929 with the Wall Street crash until August of 1945 with the end of World War II, America went through a whole lot of bad – more than fifteen years worth. The new parents of the late 40s and early 50s, determined that their children would not know bad in that way, created a society that coddled and protected their offspring and this privileged generation, growing up in a Disneyfied Sally, Dick and Jane world, were imbued with a sense of entitlement to the good life that has followed them through their life cycles. These kids, now in their late 60s and early 70s, run the majority of our social institutions and don’t seem to be able to act when bad has come again. The magical thinking emanating from various high government offices has reached epidemic proportions and while abdicating responsibility is a choice, it does little to help society cope or move forward. Those in the upper reaches of society also seem to have little care for younger generations who are now adult and need to be brought into decision making capacities, dismissing rising young leaders out of hand.
The Covid trends locally and nationally have been positive over the last few weeks. The reopening of schools may change that, but there is no way to tell for a few weeks. There’s a significant lag between a change in society and the trend in cases and then another lag before it’s reflected in morbidity and mortality statistics. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that numbers will continue to inch down, but I don’t have a good feeling about what’s to come at all. I’m going to continue to do my part with my quasi-hermit existence. It’s all I can really do. At least I have some creative outlets coming up. The Henry IV Part 2 I had a cameo in is up and I’ve been asked to do a major role in Tartuffe in a similar format. As performing artists start exploring the capabilities of on line and other mediums, I have one piece of advice both for artists and audiences. Don’t go into projects trying to recreate what was. That’s just going to provoke nostalgia and feelings of sadness. Go into them determined to forge something new, something we haven’t seen before. In the words of Sondhiem, Move On…
Speaking of Sondheim, I was cleaning out a drawer and found the letters I have received from him over the years, including my favorite one. Back in the early days of the internet and list serves, I devised a number of puzzles around his songs and shows, some of which I sent to him. He solved most of them easily other than one. And when I sent him the solution his note back was ‘I could shoot myself, but I won’t’. I thought I’d put this puzzle here and let’s see if any of my friends can best Sondheim…There are three groups of Sondheim song titles below. In each group, song titles are missing. Fill in the gaps with song titles that complete the pattern. (There is more than one possible solution).
It Takes Two
I Never Do Anything Twice
Another Hundred People
On The Steps Of The Palace
The Sun Won’t Set
Send In The Clowns
Another National Anthem
Something Just Broke
Getting Married Today
Y’all can work on that. I’m going back to the Sunday Times Crossword. I got the solfege theme today but I’m still having trouble with it…