A plea for generosity

At the beginning of this crisis, I wrote that plagues have a tendency to tyrannize people with fear, or inspire a certain kind of heedlessness. Those extravagant reactions remain a danger. But I think if you polled the American people on their actual behavior in this crisis, you would not find two neat camps of “shut ins” and “exiteers.” Instead, you would probably find a rough and messy consensus of people trying to navigate the contrary impulses in their own hearts, the ones that incline them toward caution or even paranoia and the ones that urge them to be courageous or even defiant.

There are fewer neat divisions among public figures as well. Dr. Fauci advised on a well-conceived plan for opening up. Some of the most vociferous dissenters against lockdown, such as the British journalist Peter Hitchens, are nonetheless conscientious about wearing a face covering and keeping distance in public.

Among my own friends and family, plans for extensive plane travel have been put off indefinitely. Masks are worn in public places, but not on walks around the neighborhood, where socialization happens halfway across the street. At the same time, summer-vacation plans that are more local remain on. We hear the deposits are still coming in at normal rates for rentals in our usual Jersey beach town. And the beaches are opening up for the season (with restrictions).