With another year in the rearview mirror, I thought I’d take an unconventional look at 2022 by writing about five things I want to see much less of in 2023, and five things I’d like to resume or increase after nearly three years of limiting activities because of COVID-19.
In the new year, here are five things I’d like to see less of:
1. Selfishness: During the pandemic too many people decided against getting vaccinated or wearing masks and observing other health rules, but the selfishness that seems to dominate society has been widespread for way too long; it just worsened during the pandemic.
We must start showing more compassion for our fellow human beings, and should start putting the collective good ahead of our own needs, or our society will be forever fragmented.
2. Disrespect: It’s at an all-time high. I blame not only politicians at both extremes, who have demonized their opposition, but also us, for allowing ourselves to fall prey to such base instincts.
3. Mistrust: Few people trust anyone to do the right thing anymore, and an increasingly high number of us just don’t care about connecting with our fellow human beings. If we want to try to restore civility, we must start turning disrespect into respect and mistrust into trust. Otherwise, we’ll be stuck with the next two items.
4. Anger: Ever since the onset of the pandemic, too many people not only have become angrier than ever, but, unfortunately, they also think it’s perfectly fine for them to act on their anger – verbally, physically or both – no matter whom they insult or hurt.
Want evidence? People are losing their tempers faster than ever. We see that in stores, in public settings, and especially on the roads, where tailgating and road rage are no longer rare occurrences.
Don’t think so? Then you haven’t tried to go the speed limit, including 20 mph in a school zone or 25-30 mph on side or local streets. I routinely adhere to these limits, and constantly find myself with a huge pickup truck uncomfortably on my tail. Sometimes, the tailgating is followed by the offending driver leaning on their horn, and that’s downright scary.
But anger isn’t just on the rise on the roads. Too many people don’t want to listen to the word “no,” or follow the rules, or adhere to what was once called “common courtesy,” with the result that many store clerks, waitstaff and flight attendants have been verbally abused or physically assaulted. Such despicable actions must stop now.
5. Unfettered hate on social media and in everyday life: Hate has become so prevalent that it seems as though it boils over into violence more than ever. The shocking rise of antisemitism, which has become distressingly commonplace, is only part of the story. Attacks on people of color are also up nationwide. Asians have been particularly vulnerable since the start of the pandemic, when they were wrongly blamed for COVID-19.
I don’t harbor any illusions that any of this will improve in 2023, but I do continue to hope and pray that the anger and hatred will decrease – and be replaced by tolerance.
Here are five things I want to do more of in 2023:
1. Social gatherings: On Oct. 29, when my wife and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary, we attended the biggest gathering we had been to since the pandemic’s onset: a friend’s daughter’s wedding. We both got our flu shots and Omicron boosters more than two weeks before the wedding, and felt good about going. Nevertheless, the event felt strange because I hadn’t worn a suit, dress shirt or tie since well before the pandemic.
The good news is that it felt wonderful to socialize with old friends. We schmoozed during the cocktail hour, ate dinner at a communal table and joined dozens of people on the dance floor – the first dancing I had done in a long time. It felt good to be around people, and I vowed not to wait another several years before grooving to disco and rock again.
2. Travel: Back in August, a friend and I drove to Portland, Maine, for the day to have lunch with a friend we’ve known for 50 years, and that was the first time I had traveled out of Massachusetts or Rhode Island since the pandemic.
That must change in 2023. I have a sister in California and cousins and a dear aunt and uncle in Ontario, Canada, whom I haven’t seen in too long.
3. Concerts: My wife and I haven’t been to an indoor concert or a large outdoor one since before the pandemic. I hope that’ll change in 2023.
4. More ballgames: Over the summer, I went to Polar Park four times to see the Worcester Red Sox and twice to Fenway Park to see the Boston Red Sox. I’ll definitely return to both stadiums in the new year.
5. Dining out: I resumed eating in restaurants in the summer of 2021, but I hope to feel even more comfortable dining out and shopping in stores.
It’s painfully clear that COVID-19 is never going away, which is a severe disappointment to people like me, who are not only fully vaccinated, but who also received three boosters, for a total of five shots, since March 2021. But I continue to hope that sometime in the new year, I can stop wearing a mask indoors.
LARRY KESSLER (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer based in North Attleboro. He blogs at https://larrytheklineup.blogspot.com.