What will life be like when the virus is gone and we all emerge from the darkness?

Nobody knows for sure. The way it looks the body count will be between 100-200k souls. The economy will have hit depression levels. The deficit will rise to a range I can’t even comprehend. Half the country will be out of work or working from home, the other half will fear that working on the front lines will kill them, and many of them will be right.

I got a call today from a bot taking a survey. They wanted to know if, when this is over, if I’ll go out to a restaurant, to the movies, on a plane, to Las Vegas. They wanted to know if all the things people stopped doing because of this virus will happily return. I answered no in rebellion to the questions.  How can anyone answer how a war will effect them before they’ve been through it?

What will patriotism look like?

With nurses and doctors being the soldiers on the front line, will future security come from science, and not from military force? Will the next generation of heroes be American citizens doing their jobs? After the pandemic, we’ve got climate change on the horizon. Scientists and technology will be the heroes fighting that global war. And, with global issues dominating governing everywhere, will we remain the leader of the free world, there in times of extraordinary adversity to help our friends and allies?

When war hits the homeland, it’s people wake up. Some even act with extraordinary courage. Will courage become as valuable a possession as the things people once lived to possess?

What about our divided nation, will it heal?

It’s been three years of hate and hell. I’ve watched our president lie, Fox news repeat those lies and the people who love them both defend those lies. It’s a problem when people can’t agree on the facts, and the problem is inescapable when the lies call the truth fake news.

I’ve watched and been part of bitter fights between family and friends over what is true and who is lying. Now we have a common danger. Will we find common ground?  Some disputes still break out on social media. As the body’s pile up and it’s clear this isn’t just the flu, will friends reunite with friends? Will we stop harping on the past and come together to build a new future?

Could there be a general strike?

Maybe. You would need masses of workers from many workplaces to unite in a common cause. This mass of people would need to be sitting still enough that you could saturate them with information. They would need to be angry, in fear for their lives and livelihoods. They would need a common enemy, one  that is making their futures feel impossible.

We know it entered the minds of the masses when #generalstrike was trending on Twitter.  Rent Strike 2020 leads the push on those rumblings. They’re demanding a two-month freeze on the collection of rent, residential mortgages, and utility bills “to allow working families to do what is necessary to prepare for the difficult social measures required to flatten the outbreak curve.”

Bottom line?  We have a healthcare crisis intertwined with an economic crisis, where millions of people with high rents and big bills have become freshly unemployed. We have wildcat strikes and work stoppages popping off daily, mostly because those working the front lines struggle as their lives become endangered by the actions of those in power. Add to that an angry public that’s spent the last three years organizing and rebelling against a society they can’t afford to live in. That looks to me like the perfect storm for societal change.   

What about the economy?

Will it recover? What does recovery even mean? The entire world economy has tanked. Does that mean that the whole mess will basically get graded on a curve, where the country doing the best at the end of it wins the prize of being named leader of the free world? Will that be us? We aren’t winning the war on our front. China beat the virus and now they’re generously doling out equipment to nations in need, including us! Are they gaslighting the world into believing they care about human rights?  Will it work?

Or maybe a new form of financial exchange will rise to power.  I’m talking about the blockchain. If you haven’t heard of it, read up on it. You might have heard of bitcoin, which is the decentralized (global), democratized, highly secure cryptocurrency based on the blockchain. But the real innovation is the blockchain itself, a protocol that allows for secure, direct (without a middleman), digital transfers of value and assets (think money, contracts, stocks, IP). Investors like Marc Andreesen have poured tens of millions into the development and believe this is as important of an opportunity as the creation of the Internet itself.

I like imagining the day the masks come off.

Thinking about our future is a good thing to do right now. We have the time to talk about it, to ask questions and come up with answers. To organize, so that when this is over we can build a better world.

We want these months of uncertainty and isolation to promote unity, empowerment and creativity. Otherwise they will be lost time, devolving into depression and isolation, and that’s no way to win the war. American ingenuity will rise to the front line, finding creative solutions to the problems encountered as we battle this microscopic germ. Our science, technology, creativity, courage and sheer will are the American dream.

I think the day the masks come off we will walk with grace and gratitude into a new and better world.  We will reconnect with people, with beauty, with life.  We will have grown as a nation, having battled and won World War C.