1. Increase the chance that future generations can live the American Dream. Virtual school and hybrid in-person and virtual school is a poor substitute for face-to-face learning. Vaccine makers have begun testing young children in hopes of including them in our nationwide inoculation.
2. Restore the joy of holidays large and small. Traditions give us a sense of rhythm to our year. It’s been boring without these celebrations and all their trappings.
3. Enable family and friends to gather. I predict post-pandemic reunions will be some of the most memorable of our lifetime. Grandparents and grandchildren need each other. Exhausted parents need a break from the 24/7 demands. Playdates, playgrounds, coffee shops, and sidewalk cafes need us to return.
4. Address the overwhelming mental health and substance abuse problems lurking behind the pandemic. Our forced hibernation has taken a toll on us. It is time to clean up some of the unhealthy ways we coped as we emerge from our caves.
5. Enact the massive public health work outlined in the American Rescue Plan addressing the social and health disparities. This experience has exposed a gaping wound that will not heal on its own. Food insecurity, domestic violence, access to care, technology, and broadband resources are just a shortlist of the social issues demanding our attention.
6. Rebuild our sense of community with improved transportation, employment, public services, and other elements of our social fabric broken by this pandemic. In fact, over 400,000 small businesses have closed in the past 18 months. All of these issues make each community thrive and grow.
7. Renew our shared culture and shake off the growing us versus them mentality that has taken root during our long dark sleep. Creative people best express our share culture through art, music, dance, and other lived experiences that uphold our social compact.
8. Improve sporting events. Ok, this is a personal pet peeve that I am adding here. I cannot take many more sports seasons yelling at my television with my husband. Truth be told, he doesn’t appreciate my exuberant “high fives.” Like many of us who love live sporting events, it isn’t the same without the masses yelling, clapping, and booing together. (Not to mention the lack of stadium junk food!)
9. Bring back smiles. I know that masks are vital for controlling this pandemic, I get it. But I miss seeing the smiles that light up the faces of complete strangers. Reduced non-verbal interaction is dulling our regard for each other. It puts each of us inside our own psychological bubble.
10. Lastly, for the hugs, handshakes, high fives, fist pumps, and other momentary touches that bind us to each other. People who get vaccinated are cool, hip, woke, with-it, and all the other ways of saying we live in a shared world. Humanity needs all of us to make this work. No exceptions, all of us. Together, renewed, and ready to live again.
Get vaccinated. We are counting on you!