I drove the same route I’ve always driven, but little else was the same in my first visit to Staples Center since March 11, 2020, the eve of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. This time, I was masked up the entire time and had to have proof of vax with me.
It was mid-June when I committed to return to Kings games this coming season. California had reopened with no restrictions for the vaxed and we thought that we saw the light at the end of the endless pandemic tunnel. People were talking about the “Roaring 20s,” that our country and economy would rebound robustly, spurring tremendous growth. We were wrong.
The Delta variant has a relentless grip on us. The country remains split with half unwilling to get the vaccine nor wear masks to prevent the spread. With government assistance rapidly fading out, the financial peril and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic has many living on the edge. Eviction moratoriums are set to expire that if allowed to happen would precipitously increase America’s homeless crisis overnight. Voting rights remain a key issue as one party continues its push to take ballots away from Americans of color.
Abroad, after 20 years of American occupation in Afghanistan, we can only stand back and witness the threat to innocent lives and the removal of human rights, especially for women. Globally, the climate crisis worsens as evidenced by the intensifying hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, droughts, floods, fires and rising tides. Animal agriculture continues to make the climate emergency worse despite the fact that people have learned that the cause of approximately 75% of pandemics are zoonotic created by eating animals and dairy products.
One could make the case that what we’ve endured over the last 18 months has had the most dramatic impact to our lifestyle than any other 18-month period in US history. So, escaping the heat to watch hockey on Saturday afternoon felt different. It felt good, but one can’t mask just how different life as we once knew it really is.