Up and Down. And Up Again?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this sun of York;

William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act 1, Scene 1

And what will writers say about the summer of 2020? Dickens – paid by the word in his time – could have been writing about a vision he had for 2020. Shakespeare gives us hope by flipping the seasons.

Israel is in a weekend slowdown. We are allowed to leave our homes, but almost nothing is open, except beaches (those close next weekend). The decision was made by politicians at 3am. Doctors have said that this kind of slowdown may not actually be helpful. After being a shining example of how to get the virus under control, Israel is an example of how not to open a country.

The virus affects some like a flu; it kills others. Some have no symptoms at all but carry it on to others who get infected. There is no vaccine, but maybe there are ways to lessen the symptoms with already existing drugs. Some say the virus is real; others say it’s a hoax. Some people wear masks to protect others; some refuse to wear masks to preserve their own freedom.

The internet is a salvation of information and entertainment. But it’s also filled with bad news and threats of hacks. Technology allows us to virtually meet with people around the world. At the same time, it isolates us. Industries that can move to the internet are finding new ways to market and engage. Industries that can’t adapt collapse.

New social realities have brought out the best in people – giving to charity, helping neighbors, being kind. Some internet trolls have found their way into real life and are probably happy to have their ugly behavior filmed.

Shabbat morning brought sounds of mid-morning prayers in the park. But this afternoon is so quiet, I can hear insects buzzing and birds chirping.

What will writers say about 2020? Now is the summer of our discontent made glorious winter by this endless social distancing. It was everything; it was nothing. It was bleak; it was hopeful. It was the end; it was the beginning.

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