By Susanne Severeid

This is my first column for the Ashland Chronicle. Right now, in the midst of raging differences, reactions, upsets, and opinions, I am guessing that there is one thing upon which we can all agree: we are watching history being made.

We are on the other side of almost four years of a White House in chaos with the ensuing daily barrage of headlines and the corruption of systems, checks, and balances. The upcoming presidential election is looming, along with fear over what might be done to derail a possible transfer of power. Portland protesters have been confronted by brutish Darth-Vader-esque forces whose lack of transparency appears as noir as the uniforms they don. We are choked by cyclical wildfire smoke and rising temperatures on a scale never before seen in the Rogue Valley. And, now, of course, along with the entire world, we are stranded in the real-life sci-fi nightmare of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Our lives—be they affluent or close to bankruptcy, retired or working remotely while homeschooling kids—have been up-ended for what we now reluctantly must accept will be an indeterminant length of time.

I don’t know about you, but I am suffering from an over-abundance of word soup on all fronts: from outright misinformation and goofy conspiracy theories and social media platforms rampant with aggression and toxicity, to a Republican Party that chooses to enable an inept, if not outright insane, Administration.

My friends in Europe shake their heads in wonder at what is happening here in our country. Are we incredibly selfish with no sense of the greater good, or they wonder, are we just stupid? Did we not take science and biology classes in middle and high school and learn the basics about what “contagious” means? Have we never read the children’s classic, The Emporer Has No Clothes?

I have to admit that I am shaking my head right along with them. No, I do not believe a tin foil hat will save me from gamma ray beams streaming down from government satellites. Yes, I do believe that Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx have the right to speak uninterrupted about the Coronavirus at government briefings. No, I do not believe that you-know-who has the right to go by the “metrics” in his head to make what should be decisions based on science affecting the health and well-being of all Americans.

Has “science” now become a dirty word? We have watched “truth” and “facts” become debatable. Remember Mr. Guiliani’s harebrained statement on Meet the Press when he said, “Truth isn’t truth”? Or the carnival of clowns who, one after the other, stand behind the press secretary podium spouting nonsense and insulting the press? Unless, that is, one has moved moved on to loftier endeavors like competing on Dancing with the Stars in puffy-sleeved shirts shaking maracas.

It boggles the mind and yet, just as with Covid-19, we are not out of this harum-scarum circus sideshow yet. How much further down the path of bully-boy, authoritarian-wannabe darkness will it go?

And what will be left when this cast of characters leaves the stage?

Susanne Severeid is an award-winning author, public speaker and performer with a background in international journalism.

Copyright 2020