March 13, 2021

I read an online news article from the New York Times by David Leonhardt that addressed how we need to face the world with the proper amount of optimism.  He pointed out the early coronavirus mistakes were mistakes of excessive optimism.  Neither the scientists nor the press grasped the depth of the threat.  The president exacerbated this mistake with a series of false statements minimizing the problem.  Now one year later and 544,000 deaths, politicians continue to show undue optimism by ending mask mandates and allowing full restaurants.

While over optimism caused errors, pessimism does the same now.  Thousands of schools remain closed even though epidemiologists say that many can safely open (with guidelines).  Irrational talk about the vaccines has created a reluctance to get them.  A widespread notion that life will not return to normal this year has caused people to give up trying to follow the science.  Leonhardt stressed that while difficult truths can be a vital public-health tool, so can optimism.  Optimism can help people get through tough times and be willing to make sacrifices, with the belief that better days are ahead.

A realistic optimism is what Biden tried to present in his first public address to the nation on Thursday night.  After a somber recitation of the cost of Covid-19, Biden offered a challenge and an optimistic result.  If we wear masks, maintain social distancing, and get vaccinated now, there is a good chance we will be able to gather in backyards for cookouts and barbeques by Independence Day.  We have faced the grim reality of the pandemic for the last year.  Biden offered a factual picture of our current state but went on to provide a source of motivation to do the right thing that was not based on fear.  It was an optimistic promise.

Thoughts:  One of the best parts about Spring Training in baseball is the optimism.  This is a time when teams get to evaluate the health of veterans, test the strength of potential rookies, and enjoy the game as a game.  Up until April 1st, even the worst team in the league is tied for first.  Now that I have received my first vaccine shot, I have new optimism.  I realize there is still the second shot and then the ten-day waiting period, but there is a renewed hope.  I also know being able to have a back-yard barbeque is not the same as jumping into a Spring Break pool with 500 of my closest friends.  My optimism still needs to face reality.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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