Six weeks ago, when sheltering-at-home was relatively new, Sonya Renee Taylor shared this thought on Instagram, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

As restrictions start to open, what have we learned? Are we trying to get back to what we thought was “normal”? Will we take this chance to do things differently?

Some of what’s on my mind:

1| We make life harder than it has to be. When Covid started spreading, it was legally mandated that certain “standard” practices must be stopped. Evictions were suspended, co-pays were cancelled, water was restored to customers, and shut-offs were stopped, even broadband data caps were lifted.

It makes me want all of us to examine and destroy every single penalty consumers and employees endure, and especially all the ways we punish people for being poor.

Amazing how many cruel things we consider “normal” can actually be ended on a whim.@yelix

It turns out all the sh*tty things companies do to consumers are made up and can be easily killed in a crisis.@jason_koebler

The government can do (and force companies to do) everything we demand of them. Everything you’ve been told about the limits to living in a good and just world is a lie designed to protect financial interests.@SamAdlerBell

In med school, I took an elective called “Stress”, foolishly thinking I was going to learn about meditation and yoga. Instead the professor spent 6 weeks proving that being poor or a minority literally destroys your health on a molecular level, and I think about that every day.@jfitzgeraldMD

2| America is a super-power in name, but not in practice. Sure we have more bombs, but beyond that, we’re pretty dysfunctional.

We stayed home to flatten the curve. It was one of the most generous things many citizens will ever do. And in that time, during what was a massive societal sacrifice, our government should have been putting plans in place so that things could reopen as safely as possible. At the very least, a reliable nationwide testing program, both for Covid, and for anti-bodies, should have been implemented. But it wasn’t. Now things are reopening, and every expert is warning there will be another huge peak in the fall.

America is unique among wealthy nations in its inability to combat serious problems. From gun violence to pandemic response, we look like a failed state. One of our political parties conceives of this breakdown as freedom. @zachdcarter

Again: it didn’t have to be this bad. 15% of Americans didn’t have to be out of work. The economy closed because this administration wasted the two months of lead time it had instead of preparing tests and contact tracers that could have contained the outbreak.@juliaioffe

We locked down for two months so that we could emerge with new protocols and procedures in place to keep us safe. That time has been completely squandered. Be pissed. Be really pissed.@bschapiroMD

What. Did. We. Do. For. Four. Months.@justinhendrix

Social distancing was necessary to flatten the curve and give the Trump Administration time to invest in testing, tracing, and medical capacity. They have failed to do all three. Now we’re in even worse trouble. This is the answer to the bad faith whiners on barstool and fox.@lollardfish

More than anything, this pandemic has fully torn back the curtain on the idea that the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge. — Barack Obama, as tweeted by @ShannonRWatts

So many of us stayed home for 2 months – an unprecedented act of solidarity – only for this administration to squander that time and double down on a “plan” that’s a mix of “every man for himself” and “die for your employer.” This is all depressing.@TraceyLRoss

A country that turned out eight combat aircraft every hour at the peak of World War II could not even produce enough 75-cent masks or simple cotton nasal swabs for testing in this pandemic.The New York Times

The government did not take Bowen up on his offer. Even today, production lines that could be making more than 7 million masks a month sit dormant. The Washington Post

3| We’ve been trying to stay up to date on the border closings for France, wondering when our older children will be able to come to us. The last we heard is that borders will reopen first to citizens coming from countries where the pandemic is under control. With these conditions in our airports, I wonder when America will make that list?

Related, did you know that the U.S. has stopped issuing passports except for ‘life-or-death’ emergencies? I admit, that scares me. I know people throw the term “fascism” around, but that sounds like fascism to me.

South Korea has over 50 million people. They had their first outbreak before we did. They have a TOTAL of 262 covid deaths. Any Trumper, Republican, robber baron or “Freedom” sign waver who says 80K+ deaths was inevitable and the price of doing business is full of horseshit.@BeauWillimon

Staggering fact. The US has 4.25% of the world’s population. Yet we have 32% of the world’s COVID cases, and 28% of the world’s deaths. @ed_solomon

4| We’re at 90,000+ dead and counting. Many experts believe that official number is much lower than the number of deaths in actuality. But unlike I’ve seen for every other traumatic national catastrophe in my lifetime, we don’t seem to be mourning the dead as a country.

Certainly family and friends are mourning their individual lost loved ones (please don’t miss Elizabeth Warren’s heartbreaking account of losing her brother to Covid 19), but I haven’t seen a nationwide collective mourning. We lost 3000 people on 9/11 and there were profiles on the dead for weeks and months.

I don’t know what that means. Maybe the numbers are just too overwhelming. Or maybe we can’t mentally allow ourselves mourn until it feels like the danger is really past — which likely won’t happen until there’s a reliable vaccine.

Anyone who thinks that Americans won’t stomach a daily drip of preventable deaths hasn’t been following gun control debates.@maya_sen

90 thousand dead and it’s really very distressing. I don’t have anything reassuring or political to say, I just think it’s important to acknowledge all of the lives lost. It’s just so sad. May their memories be a blessing.@brianschatz

5| So what’s next? Well, I’ve been encouraged when I see people actively envisioning a better future. I’ve seen conversations about making sure every job pays a living wage. I’ve seen essays on how to broaden the societal safety nets through things like UBI (Universal Basic Income), and treating healthcare as a human right. I loved this segment from Samantha Bee’s show about how to imagine a better future nation.

I’ve also seen lots of people talking about the benefits of working at home and how this could become more of the norm. (Obviously, I’m a big advocate for remote work — it’s what allows us to live in France but still work in the U.S..)

There’s no returning to “normal” after this. We should aspire towards something better—a society in which the dignity of every human being is upheld, the presence of justice is universal, and love reigns supreme.@CoryBooker

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that America has generous socialism for the rich and harsh capitalism for everyone else. We must strive to strengthen our social safety nets for all.@RBReich

McDonald’s starting pay in Denmark is $22/hour, plus 6 weeks paid vacation, year paid maternity leave, a pension, national universal health care/sick leave. In the U.S. the same job can be $7.25/hour with no benefits. The Big Macs cost just 27 cents more.@DanPriceSeattle

My therapist hit me with a gem, yesterday. The pandemic hasn’t changed the things you can control, those things are the same. We were just under the illusion that we controlled more.@LaJethroJenkins


I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you craving a return to “normal” or do you have hopes for something better? What would a better future look like to you? And have you seen any good writing about this topic? (Please share links!)