Editorial – Are We Smiling Now?

Mid February is upon us and by now most of us are one year into the isolation zone. We have given up any physical contact with family and friends. Masks partially hide the sadness and anger that many have endured for a whole year of life. We don’t smile anymore and why should we? After all, even the toothiest smile can’t be seen behind facial covering. Now, after all these months the party line is that one mask may not be enough so doubling up is recommended. The vaccine that was supposed to be the silver bullet has arrived but now it is said to be not enough. Life can’t get back to normal because you still have to mask up and stay away from friends, family and neighbors even after taking the double dose that was promised to be the silver bullet. Life is still on hold and frankly I am appalled with the whole situation.

Just how much living are we willing to give up? Our expectations for what is acceptable have taken a serious nose dive. We accept not seeing the people we love under the guise that we are protecting them. I guarantee you that if you polled your parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers they would say that the risk of getting ill with Covid does not outweigh the need for their family. Folks, life is not stagnant. It moves on regardless of Covid. People age. Children change and grow. Older people get older and sometimes the unthinkable happens. Sometimes people of varying ages get sick and sometimes they die. Life happens. The good and the bad and the ugly all still happen. Life happens whether we participate in it or not.

We have had one year of not. The powers that be have been making decisions for us and I am not particularly impressed with the outcome. They hide behind computer screens and call it open meetings. They cancel outings and festivals and parties and holidays and school and for what? The opportunity to wear double masks and take a chance on a vaccine that was purported to return our freedom but looks like it is bringing nothing to the table but risk.

Let’s set the record straight. I believe that the vaccine should be the largest part of the answer to the covid question and should be a big part of restoring freedom. But the unwillingness of those decision makers to allow this important breakthrough to provide that relief is more than a little puzzling. Just what do we have to do to return to our way of life pre covid? When can we visit friends and relatives? When can we go shopping or dining without face coverings and social distancing? When can we morn our dead in a fitting way and attend weddings without being chastised? When can we celebrate the holidays together? When can we see our friends and neighbors smile again?

I am tired of holding on. I have donated one full year of my life to the promise that normal was just around the corner. And, guess what. Instead of returning to normal the powers that be are pushing this unacceptable place that we reside in right now as the new normal. Thanks, but I will pass on the new normal.

A few weeks ago a little clip of a video was on social media showing a toddler running from object to object pretending to wash her hands. Many commented on how cute it was and the child was certainly cute but the action was heartbreaking. This is what she knows. It is the normal in her young life. Smile-less faces covered by masks and the aroma of hand gel are what an entire generation know of living. This new normal isn’t normal at all and those that are saying that it is must have a life agenda much different from mine. Breathing isn’t living and you can only protect those you love so much before protection becomes oppression. One year is enough. It is time we begin living life again before the new normal is all that we know and remember.

One year in, vaccines being distributed and now we have a new mandate that we must wear a mask in the Smoky Mountains National Park. This is the new normal. This anniversary is certainly nothing to celebrate. Ask yourself, are we smiling now?

Source: K. Depew, News Director