“Normal it will not be,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said this week, giving us an unexpected opportunity to hear what Yoda would say if asked to share his vision of the post-pandemic world.
Normal it certainly is not in mid-April of 2020. With so many Americans worried and anxious, the nation unites in a shared dream, yearning for … the creation of another task force.
While the president has made the commitment to do just that, the new commission charged with “reopening America” can’t yet be characterized as hitting the ground running.
In striking contrast, my Task Force on the Future Well-Being of the Nation already has several affectionate nicknames that pay tribute to its most ambitious tasks:
· The Task Force Charged with Thinking Hard about the Concept “Normal,” Before We Leap in to Restore It.
· The Task Force to Administer Random Testing Designed to Detect Dangerously Elevated Levels of Complacency, Now Recognized as a “Silent Killer” among Public Health Risks.
· The Task Force that Takes Every Opportunity to Replace “Or” with “And” in that Tired Old Phrase of Opposition: “the Economy or Public Health.”
Even better, my Task Force already has an excellent oath to be repeated at the beginning of every meeting:
As a member of the Task Force on the Future Well-Being of the Nation, I do solemnly swear that I will rise above narrow self-interest in my quest for solutions and resolutions, that I will take an instant leave of absence if I relapse into polarization, and, should the prominence of my position go to my head and tempt me into grandstanding, that I will instantly go soak said head in a bucket of head-sanitizing fluid, so help me God.
To test ourselves with a crucial initial task, we’ll begin by crafting a practical method to redirect the desire to condemn, accuse, and blame into the work of identifying a) what actually went wrong in the response to the coronavirus, and b) how to keep it from going wrong again.
After that strength-building exercise, we’ll move on to a problem that needs more attention. When the scientists reach the finish line with an effective vaccine for COVID-19, a resurgence of the anti-vaccination movement seems likely. Not waiting to be caught by surprise, my Task Force will make an overture to the anti-vaxxers, proposing a moratorium on their resistance to this vaccine, in exchange for a commitment from the medical community to be forthright in recognizing and moving to correct undesirable reactions to the vaccine.
Our nation needs us, and the clock is ticking.
If you’re willing to swear to the Task Force’s oath and to live by it, you can immediately take office as an Affiliate Member. You will then be licensed to conduct yourself as a prospective co-author of our recommendations, harvesting lessons from the experiences you have in the COVID-19 era.
When the president’s “Reopening America” Task Force is up and running, I will be perfectly receptive to a friendly rivalry. Really, there is plenty of work to go around.
Or as Yoda might put it, “All hands on deck needed are.”
Affiliate Members of the Task Force can let me know of their progress, especially in getting moving on these first two assignments, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patty Limerick is the faculty director and chair of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado.