McFeely: Normal, whatever that is, a fading fantasy
COVID unleashed an unending string of crises. We're approaching two years of daily dread now with no hopeful light at the end of the tunnel.
FARGO — March 11, 2020, is when everything changed. That's when an NBA player tested positive for COVID-19 and the professional basketball league, a multi-billion dollar business, said it was shutting down for the rest of its season.
It was "just sports," but whatever hope we had of continuing a life unaltered by the coronavirus ended when the NBA made its announcement. Businessmen don't flush massive profits for no reason. Things were going to be different.
We had no idea.
COVID unleashed an unending string of crises.
If you want a line of demarcation when things in the United States went from teetering on the edge of insanity to plunging head-first into the deep end of never-ending chaos, that would be it. It's not the NBA's fault. Somebody had to be the first to say it was time to sit tight.
We're approaching two years of daily dread now with no hopeful light at the end of the tunnel.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the latest hammer-blow to one's peace of mind, a nudge to a full-scale war across Europe and the world, and it is just getting started. There are significant chunks of the American right cheering on Vladimir Putin, as a way to bolster their deity Donald Trump and damage Joe Biden.
That such words and actions damage this country seems not to matter to these creeps. Cult before country.
Things were from perfect before COVID. Trump was trampling norms of decency, politics and patriotism. We were split already. He tore off the facade. But the last two years have been particularly nasty. Any sense of stability, of normalcy such as it was, vacated the premises.
Vicious and usually unnecessary fights over closings, masks, vaccines, schools. Vacuous arguments about "freedom." Riots over social injustice. A presidential election that didn't strengthen or celebrate democracy, but weakened and eventually threatened it. A deadly Capitol insurrection and clear attempt by Trump to overturn an election — with half the country agreeable.
We are an angry, wired nation. There is no greater evidence than enraged right-wingers threatening local school boards — school boards! — over masks and an academic theory about race most neither understand nor can explain.
There are those among us who've lost their minds, poisoned by Facebook and talk-radio and Fox News.
And now Ukraine. With a mid-term election to follow.
If we had any hope of a year without turmoil, or at least less of it, that dream is gone now. It was probably folly to believe an election in 2022 was going to allow us respite from the lunacy, but Putin rattling his nukes cemented it.
Another year, at least, of this.
Whatever normal was isn't returning soon, if ever. The question is how much more of this current state we can take. How long can we be this angry, this irrational, with no greater consequences?
And if this is the new normal, God help us. Arguing over masks will seem like child's play.