There's a lot of anger in the air these days.

Even as Massachusetts joins other states in beginning to ease restrictions and open up the economy, a section at a time, the negative energy is still simmering. Many people want to find someone to blame, no matter how far they have to depart from reality to do it. People rage about having to wear a mask, rage at people who aren't wearing masks, or simply refuse to cooperate, like stubborn preschoolers. Some people fall into the trap of self-delusion, fantasizing some sinister "them" who have manufactured this whole situation to benefit themselves. Unscrupulous demigogues and manipulators are happy to feed these delusions to get viewers, webpage hits and votes.

The pandemic has been a lengthy and profound disruption of our lives, and we have no idea when or if it will end. Our calendars are full of cancelled events. For some of us, the financial picture looks hazy and bleak in the future. Many people imagine that all will be well as soon as a vaccine is developed. But there's no guarantee we'll ever have a vaccine for SARS-COV-2. There is no effective vaccine for any of the coronaviruses we know of. We may need to live with COVID-19 as an endemic disease for a long time--controlling it through our behavior, not through vaccines.

Change is stressful, but worst of all is change that simply continues indefinitely without coming to a resolution. We feel suspended, without a sense of a destination ahead or firm ground under our feet. It's frightening. We can't plan ahead because we have no idea what's going to happen. Things we planned for months and years have suddenly disappeared.

The Murdock High School seniors have missed the end of their last year of school, and their graduation has been postponed. Many schools, colleges and universities have held online graduations, and won't process and receive diplomas in person at all. Millions of anniversaries and milestones, celebrations and achievements, conventions and gatherings, weddings and funerals are in limbo--rescheduled to next year, or moved onto Zoom.

Anger is understandable. But it isn't helpful. When we feel ourselves getting angry, we need to ask ourselves, "just what am I feeling angry about?" Often it's something either unimportant or fixable. We're overreacting because our tension level is so high.

It's been said that we are going through the same storm, but we're not all in the same boat. Different people are being affected very differently by this pandemic. Some are losing their lives; some are losing loved ones; some are losing their livelihoods or businesses. But all of us are losing a sense of trust: our trust that the world has some predictability and stability. In a way, it's a loss of innocence, because only the oldest of us has lived through something that affected both everyday life and the shape of the world on a global scale the way that this pandemic has.

All pandemics come to an end. When this one is over, we could be a broken society, or even stronger for having shared hard times and let the best of ourselves prevail.

Which you rather see happen?

Inanna Arthen