Looking Forward

Edward Bellamy wrote Looking Backward in 1888. It’s a Rip Van Winkle/Utopian novel.

The main character falls asleep in 1887 and wakes up in 2000.

All sorts of societal evolution took place in the intervening years of the main character’s nap, to which his guide will bring him up to speed.

I read this book in college in the fall of 1971 when I was still learning the Science Fiction ABC’s as written by Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke. So, futurism was popular with me, and it had yet to turn dystopian in nature despite Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World.

Bellamy created a world in which people got along. Where crime and inequality were eliminated. But that’s now what is important to us today as we hope to enter a post-covid-19 world.

In a brief scene when our character is taken to a 21st Century restaurant (remember going out to eat?), he is struck by the deference that his host affords the waiter who is tending to them. In this new world, citizens are required to provide National Service, similar to the draft that was in full force when I read this book.

However, instead of going off to war, recruits are serving the nation in more benign activities. They do so willingly because that is what citizens do. And because of that, no distinction is placed on the type of service that is performed by the citizen. Being a waiter, or a cleaner, or a sanitation worker, actually is more favorably looked upon simply because they are not glamorous jobs. To put in today’s vernacular, they are, however, essential.

Perhaps as we think about a new world after covid no longer threatens us, we can remember those who provided essential service while we stayed in our homes?

Naturally, healthcare workers and first responders, including members of the Fire Department, Police Department, and EMS, and of course teachers who are already held high in our esteem. But it is the grocers and the staff who stock shelves and put up with pandemic shopping as well as the truckers who have traveled thousands of miles transporting our much needed food and, let’s not forget toilet paper.

Then there are the farmers and the laborers in the field that have been too long considered illegals. Ask yourself, where would we be if they had not come to pick the crops we need to survive?

And restaurant workers who provide a diversion with delivered foods or curbside pick-ups.

All of these workers and their families have taken the chance on exposure to this dreaded virus so we can survive.

Let’s hope we remember their sacrifice when this is all over. Let’s hope we have learned an appreciation of the little things we used to take for granted only to realize they really weren’t that little in the first place.

Ok, rambling on a bit, but you get the point.

I’m looking forward, and it really will be forward and not looking to return to a past that wasn’t all that nice to begin with.

We have to remember that the virus cares nothing about Red or Blue states. We should try to remember that ourselves.

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