I’m spoiled. So terribly spoiled.
I was doing some writing last Sunday morning when I paused for a moment and watched a couple doves, a group of tiny birds and large black crows feeding outside my office window. The sky was a deep blue, the air as clear and sharp as if someone adjusted the focus lens on a camera.
I enjoyed the peaceful scene for some time. The serenity of it all. That’s when I reminded myself, I’m extremely blessed. I never try and forget it but it’s easy to do.
We’re all extremely blessed in so many ways when you compare how lucky we are to live in the greater Santa Barbara area. Our weather is perhaps one of the best in the entire world. Even in Solvang where it can get darn hot, it’s still better than say the deserts of Africa or the extremes of North Dakota.
It’s why we pay the big bucks to call this area our home.
During the pandemic lockdowns, I never once felt things were any different than any other day. I never wore my mask and got a kick out of walkers who jumped back 10 feet as I passed while riding my bike. It was great cycling on traffic-free roads and most notably no tourists wandering the streets.
And though the empty streets were nice, I felt terrible for the restaurants and retail shops. I hope it’s something we never have to experience again. That ill-advised decision — the lockdown — changed the country and the world forever.
I also feel extremely spoiled because during the lockdown, when I was riding the beautiful empty backroads, watching squirrels dart across the road, deer feeding in the fields, cattle grazing, I thought about all those who were imprisoned in their apartments, condos and homes with no place to escape. My heart went out to those people. I tried to imagine those challenging conditions but couldn’t.
What it must have been like to be sealed in your home with no hope of getting out. I would have lost my mind, like so many did, forced to stay inside to what amounted to a massive government incarceration. After a while many adjusted. But countless others struggled with mental issues, drug issues, alcohol and deteriorating physical health, including unwanted weight gain.
Under adverse conditions, mankind can tend to just give up and shut down. We become depressed succumbing to our situation and in essence just quit. As it turns out, the shutdown is now being described as having been virtually utterly ineffective. It didn’t accomplish anything other than the loss of more lives and the mental conflict of so many. It also had a long-term more damaging impact on untold numbers of children.
The millions of lost businesses, the livelihoods of so many, the demonizing of fellow Americans, businesses who wanted nothing more than the chance to survive was an abysmal consequence, but it’s the children who will deal with the most long-term damage.
Adults will move on, adjust and look in the rear-view mirror and proclaim that was a crappy time, but thank goodness it’s over. At least we hope the worst is over. But the kids, many who are still being subjected to erroneous rules, will have problems the rest of their lives. They can tell us they’re OK. I personally had a difficult enough time in school when I was forced to go every day and sit at a physical desk and pay attention.
However, when you are forced to stare at a machine, can fiddle with your phone and have no interaction with classmates; I would have shut down in the first 30 seconds. I would have looked upon the new form of “education” as a blessing and a wonderful vacation. I hated school and didn’t even care when the nuns yelled at me. If I had been home in my bedroom looking at a computer. No way.
It’s important to me to mentally place myself inside an apartment in downtown New York, Boston, Los Angeles, the inner cities and try to imagine what it was like for those families and children. What it’s like right now.
Maybe many of those residents are OK with living in that environment. It’s what they know and not everyone can be as spoiled as I am.
But my heart goes out to all those who don’t have the ability to break away from the life in the inner city. I wish we as a country could really do something instead of just lip service. The country has the money to invest. Lots of it. We’ve already seen how much is wasted that was dedicated for COVID. How much is given to millions of people who don’t belong here and take advantage of our good nature.
We are witness to how much is given overseas to corrupt nations who in turn keep it from their own deserving population. How much is misused on climate change folly rather than investing it in those less fortunate and give them a fighting chance.
America can make a difference. A huge difference. And it can be done literally overnight if we don’t play games. Money itself isn’t the solution, it’s how the money is used. And who uses it.
I would love to read someday stories about a place like Chicago where the murder rates are at an all-time low, new safe parks have blossomed everywhere, prosperous shops line once drug- and murder-riddled streets, now looking as bright, cheerful, clear and focused as the view outside my office window. I’m so very grateful. Thank you.
Henry Schulte welcomes questions or comments at email@example.com.