Hope and Freedom in Georgia


27-12-20 12:03:00,

– December 23, 2020 Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you live in a lockdown state, you might not remember what normal life feels like. I’m pretty sure I had forgotten. That’s horribly dangerous for the human spirit. Human beings are not supposed to live in lock down. We are supposed to be free. 

Spending three days in Georgia served as a glorious reminder of the good life. Restaurants and bars are packed, people are out shopping and spending time together, handshakes and hugs are everywhere. The movies are open. Office buildings are filled up again. You can even go to a holiday concert at the symphony hall. The holidays are not cancelled. 

Some schools are still shut and large events are struggling to restart. Masking is not legally mandated but still perfunctorily practiced out of perceived courtesy. So yes, there is some evidence of the suffering visited upon the rest of the country. Still, there is enough normalcy here to generate hope for the future. 

Most notable is the absence of the penitent despair one observes in any public place in the lockdowned Northeast, where people are still dressing in grim rags with face shields, barking at each other to mask up, or sheltering at home in fear of something they cannot see. Sadness is everywhere on display in such places. 

In Georgia you see actual happiness: smiles on faces, quick steps, and light conversations about something other than the virus. The look and feel of the place, with bustling commercial districts and holiday joy everywhere, absolutely startled me. Just being around this scene for a few days lifted my own spirits immeasurably. 

Recall that Georgia was the first lockdown state to reopen, by executive order from Governor Brian Kemp. This was in the last week of April. President Trump, after having previously urged a quick reopening, backed off. “I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities,” Trump said

Still the Republican governor moved forward. The shelter-in-place order was rescinded on April 30th and business was systematically restarted over the coming weeks. Mayors had some discretion of course and some were faster than others to reopen.

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