Since I have a bit of time while we wait in the Wichita airport for our plane to arrive, from wherever it happens to be at present, I thought it would be worthwhile to write a bit about something I have noticed during the course of my travels before. The last few days are the first time I have flown since last October when I returned from my travels to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jamaica. That series of flights brought me from Montego Bay to Charlotte, and then overnight at a local hotel there before traveling to Dallas and then Portland. As the world was at that time in the middle of pandemic fears, it made sense that there was a huge deal of attention being paid to everyone wearing masks and making sure, for example, to know that a face shield was not sufficient because it did not cover well enough the lower part of the face, for the tastes of either hotels or airlines. Be that as it may, it is now the middle of July in 2021, and from what I can tell just about everyone is over the various mask and personal distancing restrictions.
There are, however, two exceptions to this. One is that the press is still hyping up the supposed infectious power of the delta variant of Covid, something that moves absolutely no needles in the behavior of people myself who are simply tired of hearing people hype up covid to increase fear and anxiety. Today as I was sitting in the lobby at the hotel waiting for the complementary shuttle to the nearby airport and the talking heads were blathering on about an increase in covid numbers in half of the states and a marked decrease in vaccination numbers, all of which correctly indicates a correct response to something that has been overhyped for a long time and simply remains to be so long beyond the time when such hype has any credibility.
The second exception to this is the behavior of the FAA when it comes to flying. I am currently sitting at a gate (Gate #4 to be precise) in a small airport for a flight that is going to be extremely crowded. No social distancing is being practiced, as I am sitting between my mom on my left side and a total stranger who is sitting on my right. We all have our masks on, despite the fact that if interviewed I would say that possibly a majority, and even a strong majority, of people would agree that it was doing basically nothing to make any of us any safer as we do so. But since flying remains one of the most intensely regulated activities that many of us are directly involved in, we are continually reminded (including as I type this) that wearing masks in airports and on planes is required by federal law on pain of removal from planes and airports without permission to travel thusly again, should authorities decide to do so. This is in spite of the fact that few people are taking concerns at this point about the disease seriously, as is in evidence from the near total absence of seeing people war masks outside of airports. In fact, here in Wichita I saw masks being worn inside the airport but as soon as one gets out of the buildings those masks come off, because of course they don’t mean anything at this point to help anyone and only make it harder to breathe in fresh air. And yet the rules lag far behind the readily acknowledged reality.
There are some lessons to this. One of them is the lesson that rules lag far behind the realities that they are meant to reflect. It is quite possible that masks will be required by federal law in airports and planes long after no one wears them, and also possible that the eventual inevitable selective and partial enforcement of such rules will lead to some sort of massive lawsuit that invalidate the laws long after they are no longer more than a footnote in history. Another lesson to be learned is the way that power creates a strong center of gravity that forces people to bend to its will through coercive power but which often succeeds mostly in creating itself as a giant center of ridicule for being clueless and overly controlling. And this is true in matters far more consequential than wearing masks in July 2021 in an airport in Kansas, as is the case when we see restive populations over the world showing increasing frustration and anger over the incompetence of their corrupt rulers. It is worth remembering that our problems are not ours alone, but are an inevitable result of the desire of people to be the center of the universe when they do not have the character or competence to be so, opposed to the equal inevitable and universal desire of people to be free of restraint, whether that restraint is just and proper or not.