A year ago, people were gathering by the tens of thousands for New Year's Eve parties, football games, soccer games, concerts and a variety of other reasons. You could have dozens or even hundreds over to your home (if they fit). While people didn't want to catch the seasonal flu, and while many of us (myself included) received the flu vaccine, we didn't shy away from surrounding ourselves with friends and family.
The old normal was what we had all grown up with: Students were taught by teachers -- in the classroom; people went to an office to work with co-workers; and they packed churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship. People interacted without thinking about what they might be catching from one another.
That all began to change last March due to our reaction to COVID-19. Schools began to move to online teaching, and anyone who could work remotely did so. The goal was to flatten the curve, to prevent the hospital beds and ICU beds from being overrun with patients. Once that was accomplished, the lockdown continued for millions based on the orders from their state political leaders.
In May, while the nation was under pressure to stay distant and stay home, protests erupted over the death of George Floyd. According to Jennifer Kingson's article in Axios, the monetary cost from May 26 to June 8 was high: "The vandalism and looting following the death of George Floyd ... will cost ... at least $1 billion to $2 billion of paid insurance claims."
In June, Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police in Atlanta, where I live. He had fallen asleep in a Wendy's parking lot and entered into an altercation with police. Both Brooks Floyd and Brooks were black.
A few weeks later, 8-year-old Secoriea Turner was fatally shot while in the back seat of a car near the same Wendy's. The family is suing the city of Atlanta for $16 million "after mayor failed to move armed BLM protesters" and ensure safety in the city.
In September, the Associated Press Stylebook tweeted guidance suggesting that the word "protest" should be used, rather than "riot": "Use care in deciding which term best applies: A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium."
It added: "Protest and demonstration refer to specific actions ... They can be legal or illegal, organized or spontaneous, peaceful or violent, and involve any number of people."
Protests can now be violent -- but not riots.
In November, just before the general election, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., tweeted out a video. "There's a big difference between equality and equity," she said. "Equality suggests, 'Oh everyone should get the same amount.' The problem with that, not everybody's starting out from the same place."
According to Harris' video, equitable treatment means "we all end up at the same place." This will be the theme for 2021: equity. The question is how that is defined and determined; by whom; and for what category.
While some might view equity as a desirable outcome, they should bear in mind that it's not possible to control everyone's outcome without controlling everything and everybody. Would this apply to everything -- sports, arts, economics? Or just the economic goals as determined by government leaders? In any area, an equitable outcome would require holding back those who have natural gifts, abilities or drives to ensure that they would not perform better than others.
Harris' statement makes no sense. It portends a race to mediocrity.
In the meantime, homicides in Atlanta are up 58% over last year, the highest rate in two decades; aggravated assault is up 14%; and residents of the city's Midtown neighborhood of Ansley Park can hear street races in the middle of the night along the Peachtree Street bridge that crosses over the interstate. Another child was killed this month from a stray bullet while near Lenox Mall.
The basic norms of civilization seem to be breaking down.
This week, in Georgia, as a precursor to the state's Jan. 5 special election of two U.S. senators, U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner ordered Muscogee and Ben Hill Counties to keep on the rolls more than 4,000 people who had been identified as having moved based on change of address data from the Postal Service. Gardner is the sister of Stacey Abrams, a prominent Democrat who founded Fair Fight Action. Gardner refused to recuse herself.
So many things don't make sense to me. This has been an upside-down year, and based on what is happening during the final week, next year could be even more backward.
What should we do? Push back with the truth, again and again and again.