Six months ago, I wrote a blog post that we are officially living in the best of times, and the worst of times. This balance has almost certainly tipped. For fifteen years I’ve believed in the power of travel to spread inspiration, connection, and knowledge. COVID-19 didn’t just come for my industry, it came for everyone. There have however been winners. The System (sometimes known as The Man or The Matrix) has long fought against citizens who are inspired, connected and knowledgeable. It distracts us with sport, bamboozles us with Terms and Conditions, divides us with electoral colleges and by ethnicity, and builds high walls of exclusivity around the increasingly inaccessible rich and powerful. Over the years, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge, and so if you’re tuning in for paradise, I hope you’ll forgive me this one post of protest.
On his best day, the most powerful man in the world is a narcissistic, racist imbecile with the intellect and self-control of a three-year-old. The tech genius who created our most powerful platform of modern communication believes it’s morally acceptable and better for shareholders to spread false information that incites violence, massacres, fear and discrimination. Herd immunity didn’t work out as nearly as well as herd mentality when it came to dealing with a pandemic that experts have been warning governments about for years. An understandable rush to avoid the worst has resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of jobs, a crippled global economy, and the utter devastation of one of the few industries that creates a net positive for human experience, namely, tourism. A billion-plus school-kids have been forced home, adapting to dystopian and enforced social distancing, germaphobic neurosis, and a new normal of 24-hour tracking that will never, pinkie-promise, be used for nefarious purposes. Formally stable geo-political forces are being undermined, resulting in democratic abuses, political disappearances, suspicious arrests, bold assassinations, and previously unimaginable calls for state independence and annexations. Racist and anti-Semitic attacks have dramatically increased, with the ignorant emboldened by deeply flawed leadership, grotesque echo-chamber information bubbles, and our own ever-present reptilian dark side of humanity. Unarmed people of colour are being routinely targeted by law enforcement forces operating above the law, while the important fifth estate of journalism has been targeted by those in power even as the traditional media model suffers an economic meltdown. All the while, cyclones and monsoons, floods, wild-fires, melting icecaps and acidic oceans continue to fester unabated. Society has been locked down, pressure cooked, and force-fed non-stop inflammatory misinformation. We are spilling into the streets with a new level of frustration, anger, rage and confusion.
Yes, SpaceX and NASA just launched humans into space at a fraction of the cost, but there was the bigot Trump, staining the occasion like the repulsive spores of a reeking mushroom fart. Celebrities banded together to remind us we’re all in this together, albeit not all in large, opulent mansions with Jacuzzis and cigars (I really think it’s time for Arnold Schwarzenegger to not be back). Neighbourhoods and communities have banded together to flatten the curve with impressive dedication and devotion, considering we long ago stopped wondering why Winnipeg is not Montreal, Vancouver not New York, or what the curve was about in the first place. Front line workers showed us the colour of true heroes, and just about all of them don't carry weapons.
Believe me, this is not the post I thought I’d be writing at the gateway to summer, 2020. I was expecting to be planning an epic family adventure much like last summer’s incredible journey to Atlantic Canada. Perhaps the fact that the small-ship company we sailed with went bankrupt shortly afterward amid accusations of fraud - and later sunk a Venezuelan navy vessel - was a warning shot over the bow of the year to come. A year of drowned dreams and dashed prospects. At least half a year of it, anyway.
And so today, I put my intention forward for the next six months. Being honest to myself, I can’t imagine how things will improve in the short term. I can’t imagine how, given the civil unrest, fear and unemployment, there will be much to celebrate this summer. My plan is to take two spontaneous road-trips into some of my favourite regions of British Columbia, and hope for the best. I predict a rejuvenated sense of local, provincial and state pride, because unlike banks getting government bail-outs under the auspices of being too-big-to-fail (and cashing it all the way into executive bonuses), the small businesses that drive the tourist economy are too important to fail, and we won’t let them.
By the fall, the true cost of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the economic panic that accompanied it, will come home to roost. It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s going to be short-lived. Because come November, Americans beyond the 35% of rabid Trump supporters (the people who wouldn’t believe he was guilty even if Trump stood with a smoking gun over their own bullet-ridden bodies) will vote the idiot out. And while Biden doesn’t quite bring with him the fresh hope of a new era, he does represent a return to the day when adults were left in charge of nuclear arsenals. The new president, supported by a blue Congress, will dismantle four years of Trump in a matter of months. Laws will be passed at a breakneck pace restoring environmental regulations, restricting unchecked industry, and funding vital social programs. And while this is all great for Americans, the impact will flow across the border into Canada, and around the world. Progressive and inclusive ideas will flood the world with such force it will sweep away the last of the despots. The caged tigers of Russia and China won’t be put back in their cages, instead they will be invited to participate under international rules of law that are fair, free, and enforced. It will be the honeymoon of Obama's first term, only this time, liberal progressives won’t eat nearly as much shit, and they will know how low the other party is willing to sink. For Trump didn’t drain the swamp of Washington, he increased the size of the corrupt swamp to cover much of the known world. The pace of 2021’s land reclamation will be both invigorating for the economy, and re-energize the global soul.
And we will awake as if from a dream, having learned vital lessons about the empty promises of tanned vanities, the nauseous cost of exploiting both environment and consumers, and just how important it is to know how information is gathered, verified and disseminated. Perhaps above all else, we will recognize the importance of washing our goddamn hands, and not going out when we're sick.
I’ll check back with you in six months to see how it all panned out.
Please come in. Mahalo for removing your shoes.
After many years running a behemoth of a blog called Modern Gonzo, I've decided to a: publish a book or eight, and b: make my stories more digestible, relevant, and deserving of your battered attention.
Here you will find some of my adventures to over 100 countries, travel tips and advice, rantings, ravings, commentary, observations and ongoing adventures.