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The World Turned Upside Down, Part II

"You can't wait until ... this thing blows over because that might not happen for quite some time." (The World Turned Upside Down, Part I)

Suppose you are not in a physically abusive relationship. Suppose that you aren't succumbing to an addiction. The duration of the impacts of Covid-19 upon society writ large weighs upon everyone, including people not in an immediate crisis, just in this never-ending one.

"This thing" is apparently going to go on for quite some time, mid-next year by most reasoned estimates. That puts us through Autumn, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping and the holidays, the depth of winter with the always somewhat anxious expectation of snow, the boys of summer getting ready for another baseball season (we wish), the first signs of Spring emerging from the earth, the full throated springing of Spring with Azaleas and Dogwoods, the conclusion of another school year (Class of 2021!) and the summer long siesta of vacations and family reunions. All the while under the suffocating weight of this pandemic.

Perhaps our situation will seem even worse if the rest of the world comes out from under it sooner than we do, so we can only look across our ponds at our neighbors returning to normalcy while we in the US remain caked in the mire of Covid, prohibited by our neighbor's health rules from joining in their merriment.

Mid-next year seems like a long time away. With all that will happen between now and then and all that we shall experience in that long duration, I suspect it will feel like it is even a longer time than that. Perhaps a few lifetimes even, and that's for those of us who actually survive this constant, unrelenting scourge.

But enough happy talk.

Life goes on. Those of us who respect the virus continue to figure out how to manage, how to move on-on a daily basis. To use the British phrase, we carry on. And, in true American fashion, we carry on rather well, all things considered, thank you.

The virus will certainly hasten change. What would have taken several years to a decade to come to fruition now may take mere months. The best example is all the remote work we are all doing. The Georgia Supreme Court just issued its fifth emergency order which says, "All courts should continue to use and increase the use of technology to conduct remote judicial proceedings as a safer alternative to in person proceedings..." Judges and lawyers alike are rushing headlong into this brave new age of attempting justice by video. The ramifications of this are vast and, in some ways exciting.

A famous entertainment attorney I know (who is also a top notch Georgia legislator) tells me that the home entertainment industry is the fastest growing industry right now. That makes a world of sense. Providing for people at home, where we are physically far more than we have been since we were mostly living on a farm, is a sea change, exponentially accelerated by the conditions wrought by the virus.

What else changes when families are forced together? The common consensus was such a potential pressure cooker could create a huge leap in divorce filings. I disagree. I think the forced change in family life sharpens our assessment of our condition and therefore focuses our analysis just how much we benefit or don't benefit from our partner-relationships. But that doesn't mean that many more people will want out. What it does mean is that many more people will take the opportunity to further themselves and deepen their relationships. Some people will need to get out, sure. Some relationships just don't work and forcing couples to stay together is the whole oil and vinegar thing. Eventually, they separate. Still, for the most part, I suspect that forcing couples together, rather than creating a heightened demand for divorce, will create a heightened demand for marriage counselors. The concept of "dig in or dig out" will result in more people digging in and deepening their relationships out of necessity and out of desire.

I suspect that as we emerge from the virus' scourge, most of us will emerge as a more enlightened, committed and focused people. From our experiences of creating the life we want at home, I suspect that most of us will be better prepared to create the life we want at large, in our society, in our culture, in our world. And I look forward to it.

This is not the end of our road. Rather, we are in a cocoon of sorts. Next year, we will fly.

-Michael Manely 

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