Local Commentary

Editorial: Will Humans Become Animals?

Now that one of the most severe effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the general population — namely, the lockdown’s 16-month long prohibition of public gatherings — has been lifted in this area, and sell-out crowds are on the horizon, and we’re all piling back onto the roadways and into stadiums, concert halls, restaurants and clubs, a new question arises that some of us have been contemplating for the last year.

Basically, it is this: How will people behave differently now that the pandemic has been declared effectively over for this region of our orb? That is, how differently than before the lockdown. It’s been a big existential question for as long as we were all locked down. Now it’s more of a practical matter.

It’s a perfect time for experimenting with something new, kind of like going to summer camp as a teenager.
The best options, in our humble opinion, deal with adjustments to personal habits, patterns and behavior. Can you be kinder? More considerate? More patient?

Unfortunately, the evidence overall seems to be trending the other way. People are being observed ruder on the roadways, more prone to angry honking, bird flipping, rage and yelling than before. This has always been a bad trend for our culture, but now, at least in the first days of the post-pandemic, things are not looking a lot better.

It’s not as bad as the true story reported in a Houston, Texas newspaper 40 years ago when two enraged men in pickups pulled along side of each other, and each fired a rifle shot, killing both of them.

The political division in our society seems the worst in a long time, and that’s because there is so much blatant lying at the top levels of key institutions. Society is having an unusually hard time coming to basic grounds for shared sentiments. This has been exacerbated by the pandemic’s required isolations, when talking, or even sharing a couch to watch a game on TV, requires no dialogue beyond “pass the chips.”

That accounts for the explosion of cute animal images online. The old saw about D.C. seems to apply, “In this town, if you want a friend, get a dog!” Or, as the Internet images are teaching us, a bird, a baby elephant or, of course, a kitty.

Animals, and not just the domesticated ones, seem to have temperaments that stressed humans could really learn from. We’re seeing on the Internet that they act like animals only when they need to for survival or to protect their young. Otherwise, they seem to have a great indifference concerning things that seem to make a much bigger difference to humans, such as outward appearances or language differences. They have powerful tendencies toward empathy, humility and even humor.

So post pandemic, maybe folks will be more inclined to tune in a little bit more to their animalistic sides. Their good aspects, that is.