Hugs and Handshakes (It’s Over)

When I was a child there was a carnival ride known as the Salt-n-Pepper Shakers. It had a compartment at either end of two rotating arms, spinning people upside down, round and round in circles. Inevitably, over the course of an evening, one or more of its thrill seekers would vomit. The spinning nature of the ride unfortunately meant that the other occupants of the ride, and perhaps those standing in line waiting for their turn on this unique amusement, would be as covered in vomit as the sick rider. This ride has blessedly gone missing from American carnivalia. I’m not sure if it was ever officially banned or if the ride operators simply grew weary of hosing down the barf each evening.

I’d rarely thought of this amusement ride in the decades since my youth, but in the last year it has popped into my head on several occasions. Indeed, the past year has spun us all around, turned us upside-down, made us sick, and no one, I mean no one, is still clean. After 14 plus months, we are stumbling out from the ride, trying in vain to catch our balance. Which way is up? Who am I? What do I believe anymore? What can I believe?

It’s over.

2020 and 2021 reared many bitter political and social issues for us to take position over. We drew lines and formed teams. Facts, statistics, surveys, reports and science flew about us willy-nilly. Some of us dug in and threw vomit, while some of us tried our best to stay clear of the fray; declining Thanksgivings with family and avoiding social media like the plague. Whichever path you took, you could not help but wonder how you could continue to coexist in America when it seemed like half the population was evil and had lost all common sense.

It’s over.

Perhaps it’s time to turn aside our differences and forgive past transgressions. I know it’s a tall order. Perhaps, it will be easier if we realize that EVERYONE was right on some issue and EVERYONE was wrong about another. Some were right and wrong on the same issue. One thing is for sure, there were too many issues for anyone to be right on everything. If you think you were well enough informed to have been right about everything, then fill out a March Madness Bracket. You have a vastly greater chance of filling out a perfect college basketball tournament bracket, than you had at landing on the correct side of every issue over the past year. If you’d want forgiveness for you’re own misperceptions, shouldn’t it follow that you should be willing to give forgiveness to others who misperceive?

It’s over.

I, myself, was wrong. I thought, for sure, a two-week shutdown would devastate our economy. It was largely shutdown for much longer than two weeks, yet seems to have recovered much of its vigor. To be sure, it was devastating for many individual businesses and people, and I’m under no illusions that we did anything but finance the past year on our collective U.S. credit card that will be paid back by our grandchildren, but I was wrong in my predictions that there was a good chance such a stoppage might seize up our economic engine in its entirety. I was also wrong on the 2020 election. I thought the former President would cruise to victory over our current President. (I didn’t vote for either. My preferred horse finished a very distant third.) I was right to think that Trump would garner more votes than any other man in history up to that election. I never thought the only person to ever get more votes would be in the same election, especially, when that man was rejected several times before to lead his own party, hid in his basement for a year and suffered from obvious mental decline. It turns out it wasn’t Joe Biden’s favorability that I greatly misjudged, but hatred for Donald Trump. The point is, I was wrong. And so were you, about something.

It’s over.

Don’t wear a mask. Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Wear a mask. Wear two masks. Don’t wear a mask. And, this is from experts in the field of transmissive diseases. You have politicians who said they would never get any vaccine that was greenlighted by the Trump administration who are now vaccinated and scolding those who aren’t vaccinated. You have those who praised Donald Trump and his operation warp speed to create a vaccine, who now refuse to get a shot because of some vast government conspiracy. We seem to be flipping and flopping and twisting and thinking am I still on the same team I started on? People who hated masks for a year are now pissed off that some can now take them off. Others who said, “I follow the science!,” for a year, are now turning on the science that says vaccinations are working and we can take off our masks. We have all become like Dr. Seuss’ Sneetches (Watch it on YouTube, if you haven’t “cancelled” him).

It’s over.

Hypocrisy abounds. The question is do we each spin our changing information to stay “right” or do we admit that we may have been wrong about a few things or even a great many things and forgive ourselves and others too for not thinking perfectly in a time of fear?

The pandemic is over. Yes, it’s over. We must put away our divisions, at least on this one issue. Why are we so tepid now that we are through to the other side? Take a break from fear. You’ve earned it. We’ve earned it. It’s okay to be excited about brighter days. The type of victory we have just earned used to be met by previous generations with massive tickertape parades. Let’s resume the things that all Americans love and agree on. It’s time to bring back ball games and barbeques. It’s time for travel and vacations to resume. Bring back the dances and concerts. Bring back the carnivals (Just not the Salt-N-Pepper Shaker). It’s time to take off the masks if you’re vaccinated. If you’re not vaccinated and want to take off your mask too, go for it. It’s your life. America is meant to be that free.

It’s over! Hugs and handshakes are now back on the menu! Go hug someone you love. Go hug someone you hate. Maybe I’ll even hug a Marxist, the type who loved the pandemic because it hurt America. Filled with so much pain, fear, hate and envy, they probably need it more than anyone.

The most important thing to take from this is: IT”S OVER!

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