If we're being honest, a postcard memory of me during the pandemic is like sitting in front of my laptop, trying to make sense of the news, like looking like Macaulay Culkin, just like what? Is that a piece by Van Gogh that like silent scream picture? Is that Van Gogh? That is basically, that has been me mostly.
You can't avoid talking about COVID for long stretches. Yeah. I'm very nosy. You can call that inquisitive to make this sound better, but I'm just very nosy. My sister, I disagree with, and it doesn't matter because that's a grown-ass woman. Whatever she's going to do is supposed to do. But in my opinion, she could be a little bit fastidious in terms of her practices of safety around COVID. That being said, as far as I know, she has not gotten sick at all during this whole time. So maybe I'm the one who's overreacting. I don't know, but for the most part, I agree with people. And even when I - there are moments of when I second guess again, like how cautious I am.
There's been a huge investment and the development of vaccines for coronavirus and so that will be like a key component of like things going back to normal. I’m of many minds about this. So on the one hand, the development of a vaccine is a positive thing, is a good thing. And I am not an anti-vaxxer. I am a pro-vaxxer, so that's not where I'm coming from.
On the other hand, it hasn't stood the test of time. I think there are reasonable hesitations and the way that I'm balancing that is A. I'm not, I'm not on the first wave of people that is going to get it. I'm not even on the second wave of people, but I'm taking a wait and see approach. I'm fairly certain I will end up getting it at some point. I just don't know if I would be going to get it the moment I'm eligible if that makes sense.
My word of the year, aside from the P word of “pandemic” is another P word “practice” that is becoming much more important to me. Our reality right now demands that we not just post or be pissed off by ourselves. Prior to actually embodying any political practice through my volunteering, I was very interested and like engaged in politics, but like as an intellectual pursuit, as an individual, through my like discussing with friends or people are perceived as moderate, you know, fussing with, you know, my moderate friends or Republicans. It was very interpersonal and not moored to a movement.
Until my friend Kat, very gently, in the way that she does, when she sent out an email to some friends that she knew to be Sanders supporters like, Hey, you know, the campaign is really about to hit its stride. I was thinking about starting to phone bank for the campaign because you know, this is the people power campaign and our help would be - would go a long way.
And so that's when it was like, okay, Janelle, you have to move this like from you know, you on the internet reading, you have to move from there to reaching people who may or may not think about things the way you do, or may or may not have things discussed with them in the language that connects it to their own lives. So it's like it's time, like put up or shut up.
So I did, and it started off very like chill, like phone banking once a week in the office. And then it was like phone banking a little more. Then it was with me having zero experience or knowing what the hell I was doing, them them deciding that, Oh, okay, you're going to start hosting canvases. And it's like, wait, what? I've only done a couple and I don't know what I'm doing. Like, what do you mean? I don't, I can't do this, but yeah, I can. So it became like a - I mean, if there's a such thing as like full-time volunteer, I became a full time volunteer.
And we were like, before the pandemic ruined everything, we were like ready to go to New York. And pull up stakes in New York and help win some other states. And you know, it quickly devolved into a nightmare and you know, we're not always going to win, but we got to try. You have to be in community with one another in order to, in order to foment some political contestation that can move us forward.
More than anything this pandemic has, of course it's been, it's had a material effect on people's health, physical health. Like too many people have died directly from it. Even more is the way in which this pandemic has been a complete and utter political failure that has also had an equal if not greater kind of effect on everyone's life and has revealed so many things. But primarily to me, what it's revealed is that our elected officials are completely disconnected from the lives of the overwhelming majority of people in this country.
And the very real suffering that happens in this country are virtually all the result of very poor political choices or neglectful political choices. There's no re - I mean, you're about to give me worked up and you knew what you were what you're doing when you asked me this - but there's no reason that at the outset of this pandemic, that, you know, corporations were able to freak out about the economy slowing down because people had to stay home.
So they got $6 trillion. And the people got not even a pittance. Where were political leaders of either party to say, Hey, because we, we recognize and we understand the severity of this threat we are and we at the federal level, like, hold the purse strings, we will pay every man, woman, and child to stay home, which is like a big part of the problem.
Most people cannot afford to shelter in place. They have to risk their health in order to keep a roof over their head and food on the table if that. But we'll pay everyone to stay home because we understand that's kind of how epidemiological math works.
And now because we as Americans, unfortunately, aren't good at looking up in terms of understanding the genesis of where or how our suffering starts. We, you know, now we start, you know, fussing at each other, like, and moralized the forcing of personal responsibility on each other when it's not - the fact that, you know, my neighbor or you, or me, or whatever is, or is not wearing a mask that “en todo” is not going to be the thing that gets this thing under control and like makes it less stressful for me to earn a living. You know what I mean? Like we ended up then like pointing fingers at each other, yelling at each other, thinking that we are each other's enemy when that's not the case.
And I hope I don't sound too like goopy and woo-woo. Though there is so much that is terrible, ridiculous, bad, unnecessary, all those things. Though there is that. Not to ignore that or to minimize that, but and maybe I sound way too romantic saying this, but I got a glimpse of something better and something - not a glimpse - I saw it through the campaign working, you know, day in and day out with regular people. That is not to say that we all probably agree on every single thing, the same way or for the same reasons, but that's not the point. We were all in lockstep working toward this collective vision, this collective articulation of a more dignified future, not just for ourselves, but for people that we don't know.
So I got a glimpse of it and it wasn't a fever dream. I didn't make this up. I saw it, I smelled it, I tasted it. I touched it. I heard it. It was real. It was very real for, it was a very concrete experience. So I know that because I experienced it once I can, and will God willing experienced that again.
And so I hold those two things in tension. Things are very terrible, but I know that there's the capacity for people to come together and work against the terrible, toward a positive vision for the future, because I experienced it. It was, it was real.
I think in a post COVID world, what I hope for myself is like this continued feeling of fulfillment and joy and re-engaging in some form of practice there and some fulfillment there. And I hope that for all of us, that means that we are able to continue to struggle together working toward universal concrete material benefits for working people.
I don't want your virtue. I don't want your moralizing. I don't, I don't want your weaponized sanctimony. I want food on the table. I want a roof over my head. I want to be able to see a doctor when I need to. I want clean air, clean water, you know, fucking 15 less fires in the state.
You know what I mean? Like that's what I want and that's what I want for everyone.
So getting to work with like-minded people toward that again is what I am looking forward to. I'm under no illusions. It won't happen overnight, but we can't take our eye off the ball because like we know too much, like we know better now. And because we know better, we have to do better.