I intended to write a blog post about the reopening plan for Massachusetts. I planned to include critique with suggested improvements. I had multiple paragraphs ready to publish, and then I walked away and did other tasks. When I returned to my keyboard, my head was somewhere else.
I deleted those paragraphs. I decided to share a parable instead.
Back in the days when I was an elected city councilor, I participated in many contentious government meetings about policies and protocols, laws and regulations, and important stuff that impacted my constituents.
In one council meeting, we debated the merits of a regulation about wind turbines. A private developer had installed a turbine on his property. He received approval from abutters and requisite municipal and state agencies, but nobody realized until it was too late that the rotating blades in front of the sun caused a shadow flicker that appeared in people’s homes a mile away. Those homeowners were among my constituents.
The 11 members of the city council had numerous opinions and ideas on how to create regulatory language in order for future turbine proposals to allay the fears of other shadow flicker homeowners. Arguments got heated.
I remember the sponsoring councilor stood up and suggested that if we agreed with most of the plan, and if we recognized that other aspects could be amended and changed down the road, then maybe that was enough of a reason to vote yes. It was a simple idea. I scribbled my notes for a to-do list, smiled, and voted for approval.
There’s a lot of information that I don’t like about reopening the state. When I returned from my tasks and deleted the words I had written, I looked again at the Governor’s plan.
There is a sentence on page 4 of the Massachusetts plan that I hope is comparable in other state plans. It says, “Until a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 is available, life will not return to normal.”
National and state plans to reopen non-essential businesses and to stimulate the economy are written with explicit guidelines and enforcement. If public health data negatively changes, then the plans change.
If we accept that life today will remain in flux until a future time when life returns to 2019 levels, then maybe that’s enough of a reason to accept the promulgated plans. Instead, we should worry about aspects that are more important and where citizen opinions and actions matter more.