It’s that time of year again. As I write this, the US Thanksgiving holiday approaches and many of us take stock of just what we’re thankful for.
I recently ran into a situation that summarizes my biggest “thankful” takeaway from 2022: A crowded Walmart. As in REALLY crowded. Uncomfortably crowded. “Please let me out of here” crowded.
No, I don’t like shopping, nor am I fond of packed crowds in stores. In fact, for a few years in the early 2000s, I suffered a PTSD-like effect. I just couldn’t tolerate it and simply fled more than once.
But this is 2022, and crowded stores mean that the COVID-19 pandemic panic is over. I couldn’t wait to get out of that Walmart, but not because everyone’s face was covered and everyone was WORRIED sick about the possibility of GETTING sick.
That’s not to say that COVID-19 is over. As of mid-November, according to Worldometer, the US was still experiencing nearly 40,000 new cases, and suffering more than 300 deaths, per day. Whether we think of that as “pandemic” or “endemic,” the virus is obviously still with us and likely to remain with us. Many of us have lost loved ones and that can still happen.
But we seem to be done with the irrational panic that politicians and “public health” authorities used as an excuse mangle the economy, keep us separated from family and friends, and force us to wear masks — the equivalent, vis a vis the spread of viral infection, of lucky rabbit’s feet, St. Christopher medals, or “Whip Inflation Now” buttons — nearly everywhere we went.
I’m thankful beyond words that the public has finally calmed down (despite the best efforts of the aforementioned politicians and bureaucrats), and hopeful that we’ll get some measure of accountability for those who turned a bad situation into a worse situation because they believed they could get away with doing so.
In talking with friends about their holiday travel plans, I’ve run into not so much as a single “is it safe?” worry of the type that characterized 2020 and lingered through 2021. Grandparents will see their grandchildren this Thanksgiving and/or Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule/etc., and vice versa, some for the first time in nearly three years.
A return to “normal” political polarization, wars and rumors of wars, etc. may not be an improvement, but it’s at least a relief that — for me, anyway — overshadows the various bad news elements of 2022.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.