Nick Carraway: You can't repeat the past.
Jay Gatsby: Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can.
The Great Gatsby
As the numbers of infected fall, and more and more people become vaccinated I can’t help but ask myself: What’s next ? I am an eternal optimist and despite the horrible reoccurrence of mass shootings erupting again, and the return of some of the problems we faced before the pandemic, I have hope for a better world to come. Every time I look for answers in the future, I look back in time. The last time anything close to this happened was during the beginning of the 20th century. Spanish Influenza swept in with a vengeance in 1918 and by the time it began to wind down in 1920, it had killed between 50 to 100 million people world wide! What caused the Spanish Flu remains as much of a puzzle as what’s caused COVID-19. Some say it began in a town in Kansas; another theory is that the soldiers fighting in World War I spread it through ships and barracks. One ongoing theory is, it originated in China. All we really know is that by 1920 the flu was gone; the world wanted to put the pandemic as far behind them as possible, thus ushering in one of the most progressive and dynamic decades ever, “The Jazz Age.”
But some who have studied the era believe the pandemic played a much greater role in shaping the Roaring Twenties than history textbooks give credit for.
VinePair, Tim McKirdy
With Prohibition, the War, and the Spanish Flu—historians say that during this time, people, seeing so much death and devastation, developed a cavalier, “we are going to die anyway,” attitude. Isolation, mask wearing, and death forced people to isolate, to deal with the death of loved ones, and to face financial hardships alone. There was the end to World War I bringing its own tragedy and trials. When it became safe to venture out, mega socialization exploded. Prohibition, women winning the right to vote, manufacturing advances making the US a powerhouse brought about radical changes. Getting out of a recession and the War brought financial prosperity. The massive return to socialization and excess brought out creativity in music, arts, movies, and radio. The 20s birthed Art Deco, Surrealism, Jazz, shorter hemlines and shorter hair. Everything changed and we left the Victorian age, entering into the world we know today.
With the return to normal life I can’t help but see the parallels from then to now. People are starting to come out in droves, looking forward to the end of COVID -19, and are returning to travel and life beyond COVID. The battle is not over. The United States is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, where most of the world is still cloaked in semi darkness. Hopefully with the battle half won, mid 2021 can be the beginning of something extraordinary—a new age, perhaps another Renaissance. Maybe it will be a rebirth of new thinking and addressing new racial boundaries. Maybe there will be new gun laws to protect the innocent and to prevent unnecessary violence. Maybe it will be a new age of music and art, of fashion advances. Maybe it will be a time of prosperity for all classes. Maybe it will be a return to kindness and love—deeper relationships and not just surface ones based on social media.
Maybe, just maybe it will be a better and braver new world.