This morning, as the dew dripped off the gargoyles that line the parapets of my Mount Winchester estate, my heart swelled with hope. I watched the birds mating in the trees and the ambulances pulling away from the adult-care facility at the bottom of the hill, and I got to thinking. And when I think, good things happen.
Now that the COVID-19 crisis is over, it’s time for us to begin imagining what our post-COVID world will look like. As the author of the new book of spiritual essays and difficult-to-understand bar graphs, “Our Better Angels: How We Can Create Utopia Out of a Ruined America,” I believe I’m uniquely positioned to be that guide.
We must build a society based on what I call “rational kindness combined with government-mandated contact tracing.” After a vaccine appears, we will all receive a mandatory weekly stipend from the government so we can continue to think. When building a better world, we must all be architects.
In the future, there will obviously be no children in restaurants. That’s a given. But I also believe we should outlaw mayonnaise. On a more macro level, taxes will be something we only pay if we are “feeling generous.” But we must require generosity. Our economy has to run on goodwill and wishes, not fossil fuels.
We must no longer try to Keep Up With The Kardashians. Voting should happen only by mail, and the same goes for visiting our grandparents, whom we will keep in a safe facility at the bottom of the hill.
Chicken wings will no longer exist as food. We will keep chickens as pets, but we will only be allowed to look at them, not eat them. We can paint and hide but not consume eggs, unless they are duck eggs, because duck eggs are delicious. But we will only allow essential workers to eat them.
In this world, empathy will rule the day, unless you disagree with someone’s political opinions, in which case you will report him to your contact tracer. We must all work together to build a better society. Therefore, we cannot tolerate dissent, or any scent.
Also, we must continue to stand six feet apart, unless your contact tracer clears you for closer contact with essential workers. You must wear a mask in the grocery store and bring groceries to the mask store. We will now call potatoes tomatoes. When life gives us lemons, we must make lemonade.
It goes without saying that we must increase testing. Every day, every citizen will receive a test for COVID-19 infections, and a separate test for antibodies. We must all also receive a weekly IQ test. There will be occasional pop quizzes. And, of course, we must constantly test our resolve to improve society. Anyone found wanting must report the results immediately to her contact tracer.
Right now, these are merely ideas that I’m thinking about while I drink my coffee, but I have other ideas as well. Do we really need football? Or Alabama? Or birthday parties? These were all indulgences of the old world, which was worse than the better world that we, the architects of improvement, are building.
We shouldn’t travel anymore, as travel brings the risk of disease and human interaction. Instead, let’s all stay right where we are. As Candide said, we must cultivate our gardens, growing potatoes (tomatoes). But we must no longer play tennis.
In this new, better world, we will only socialize inside our “bubbles.” These will be literal, physical structures sponsored by your voluntary taxes. But they will also be virtual bubbles of person-groups, assigned to you by your contact tracer. Genetic tests will determine your viral health and social compatibility. Life will be fun in your bubble. Any complaining will result in a confiscation of your meat rations.
If Dr. Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates, in association with Count Dracula and Cthulu, develop a vaccine, we can attend baseball games again, in small groups. James Corden will sing the National Anthem, accompanied by a choir of essential front-line workers. If you fail your required temperature screening, we will send you to a center for further processing.
Together, we will create a better future.
This will be fun.