The intense stress and abnormality of the pandemic lockdowns and prohibitions have, for many people, warped the perception of time. The term “blursday” has been employed to describe the confusion and disorientation that these months have brought to our lives. Things that happened last January, before the virus took hold, seem like events from another era. Since the spread of COVID-19 and ensuing quarantine measures, individual days blend from one to another with a numbing sameness. A whole month can pass by but it feels like a weekend.
These months of strange days have also warped the perception of distance. How could it not when you can participate live in a meeting on the East Coast from your bedroom in Makiki but you can’t grab a jar of spaghetti sauce from a store shelf because you don’t want to get within six feet of the the stock clerk restocking the shelves? Things that should be easily accessible are not, things that used to require long plane rides and hotel reservations can be accomplished from the designated “Zoom room” in your home.
We haven’t slipped the time-space continuum. It just feels that way.
The sense of distance and isolation has always been part of island life. At the turn of the last century, news traveled to and from Hawaii via transpacific ship. Until the ’80s, network television programming came to Hawaii a week late and we got Christmas specials in January. Even now, trends get here later, mail takes longer, certain online retailers still won’t ship to Hawaii addresses.
But the pandemic has erased some of that sense of being remote and inaccessible. When the virus started spreading and triage tents went up outside Hawaii hospitals and little Lanai had a big outbreak, it was clear that Hawaii was closer to the rest of the world than maybe we let ourselves believe.
The riot by Trump supporters on the nation’s Capitol was 4,800 miles away, but it felt closer. Watching far-away violence on television is how most of us grew up, but that danger seemed detached, the emotions blunted by knowing that the terrible thing that was happening wasn’t happening here, wasn’t us, and, most importantly, wouldn’t cross over to Hawaii’s shores.
This was different.
The storming of the U.S. Capitol brought home the reality of Trumpism to lawmakers who supported or at least tolerated him.
Nick Grube/Civil Beat
Maybe it was different because a virus that was first detected so far away easily found its way here and decimated so many facets of our way of life and ways to make a living. We found out the hard way in 2020 that the world is much smaller than we ever realized, that people are incredibly interconnected.
It was also different because it wasn’t happening in some war-ravaged country. It was on American soil, by homegrown terrorists.
It seems that the old perception of distance was at least part of what kept so many Republican enablers of Donald Trump right by his side for four years. His stoking of hatred and lies didn’t defile their glossy offices or elegant dinner parties. It was far removed and easier to ignore. Everything changed when the seething violence Trump stoked closed the distance, ran up those stairs, busted down the doors of Congress and brandished weapons right in front of their eyes.
When the threat is buffered by a sense of safe distance, it costs nothing for a person to support all manner of hate-fueled, unjust causes. For some Republican lawmakers, the truth of Trump and his bloodthirsty base had to come crashing right through the glass for them to finally admit the truth. It was OK when far-away “others” were threatened or attacked, but when they themselves had to crawl under a desk or run away to a safe bunker, it finally got to be too much.
During a crisis like this, it’s more important than ever to dig beyond the news, to figure out
government policies mean for ordinary citizens and how those policies were put together.
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