One day I saw three commercials enticing me to visit the Florida Keys.

The next day my husband, Paul, tried for hours to secure a vaccination slot at MaineGeneral, to no avail. He’s 70 and has asthma.

We don’t even eat out. We sure as heck aren’t planning trips to the Florida Keys.

We are living in disquieting times. The coronavirus is still a major issue; we have a long road to normalcy ahead. On the other hand, there’s definitely hope on the horizon with a new administration in Washington.

But virus fatigue has set in and I fear we won’t stay on the straight and narrow path of prevention as long as we need to. The vaccination process across the country has been fraught with problems.

And then there are all those crazy people who believe in conspiracy theories.

Sometimes I feel my head is spinning as I weigh considerations between the good, the bad and the ugly.

I might wonder who the Florida tourism officials are trying to reach, or why their commercials show people who aren’t wearing masks. But I don’t have to. On a recent CNN coronavirus town hall, a viewer wondered if she could now travel to visit her grandchildren, since she and her husband have had both doses of the vaccine.

I’m glad Dr. Anthony Fauci was there to answer the question, but even I could have told her to stay home.

The vaccine is a godsend, but we’re still going to have to take the same precautions as we have for nearly a year now. For months. I’m an educator, and I’ve reached the conclusion I’ll be lucky to be vaccinated by April.

President Joseph Biden cares about the American people, his country and the environment, something we haven’t seen in the White House for four years. He is trying to rectify the damage inflicted during the Trump administration as quickly as possible. I like to say that while Donald Trump put foxes in the henhouse, Biden has placed hens.

But he was inaugurated under a dark shadow — the fear of violence, following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by violent Americans. They were stirred to action by Trump, who had claimed for months that if  he lost, it was because the election was rigged.

Many of the insurrectionists believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory. They believe there’s a powerful group of Democrats who are pedophiles and cannibals and who are out to rule the world and destroy Donald Trump.

How can I possibly live in the same world as these people? How is it that I share citizenship with people who stormed the capitol carrying American flags and shouting “USA” while simultaneously exhibiting a total lack of an understanding of the Constitution?

I can’t believe I wrote “cannibals and pedophiles” in the same sentence.

Voters in Georgia rose to the occasion when they elected their state’s first Black and Jewish senators, Democrats who evened the Senate party split to 50-50. Yet one of their Congressional districts voted Majorie Taylor Greene into office. A video of her harassing David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland school shooting and anti-gun activist, recently surfaced. She believes in bizarre conspiracy theories, including QAnon.

The House Republican leadership has appointed her to the Education Committee. Of course they have.

We went through Alice’s looking glass in 2017 and have yet to emerge. So it was that 50 anti-vaxxers showed up at a mass vaccination event at Dodger Stadium. The procedures had to be halted for an hour as a result.

My take: People can believe in any crazy theory they want, as long as they don’t act on it. They can talk about it in public. But no one has a right to try to keep other people from being vaccinated, or to defecate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

One of my favorite documentaries is Ken Burns’ “The Civil War.” Paul and I rewatch it every summer. The vision of a nation torn apart is seared on my brain. There were Americans who refused to accept Abraham Lincoln to be their president even before secession. Families were torn apart by differing loyalties. Robert E. Lee, graduate of West Point, smart, disciplined and brave, felt he had to fight for the Confederacy. The stories of division are both disturbing and illuminating.

And here we are, divided again. And I sadly believe that our current situation has the same roots as the Civil War. The secessionists wanted to protect slavery. The far right today still can’t accept that Barack Obama was elected president.

It’s no coincidence that we are confronting a reckoning over racial injustice at the same time we have faced down claims of a fraudulent election and impeached a president for  inciting an attack on the capitol.

History reassures me because it is hindsight. Lincoln didn’t know how the war would end, but we do. I don’t know how Americans will resolve their differences this time. But despite my spinning head and sense of deep unease, I still have faith that we will.

Liz Soares welcomes email at [email protected].


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