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OpEdNews Op Eds    H5'ed 6/1/21

A New Hope

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"Who's the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?" - Obi-Wan Kenobi

Enjoying our day at Six Flags Magic Mountain
Enjoying our day at Six Flags Magic Mountain
(Image by Carl J. Petersen)
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After a long year in quarantine, my family was eager to get back out into the world. With my medically fragile wife finally two weeks past her second vaccination, we decided that we were willing to take the risk of leaving our cocoon. We masked up, packed the hand sanitizer, and embarked on a family trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain.

The first steps back out into the world were not promising. According to the rules for reopening the park, it is supposed to be operating at a limited capacity and we were, therefore, required to make reservations for our visit. However, no one asked to see proof that we had registered online before letting us through the turnstiles. A parking attendant simply asked if we had made reservations.

Admission is also supposed to be limited to in-state residents. However, our IDs were never checked to ensure that we actually lived in California. I also noticed that several of the cars in the parking lot had out-of-state license plates.

On a positive note, the park's mask usage requirements were strictly enforced. We even observed one roller coaster stopped on the lift hill while the operator waited for a rider to put their mask back on. Unbelievably, it is over a year into this pandemic and too many people still have not figured out how to wear masks properly, but at least there was some level of protection being offered.

Lack of social distancing
Lack of social distancing
(Image by Carl J. Petersen)
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The same could not be said about social distancing. While markers had been placed in the queues to keep people apart and signage reminded visitors to "Do The Six," the crowds were still huddled together as they waited for their chance to ride. Watching this lack of compliance provided proof that Governor Newsom had done the right thing by delaying the opening of amusement parks until vaccinations had begun.

Unfettered, we ventured out the following weekend to the dog-friendly area of Huntington Beach. With plenty of space to spread out and a brisk breeze, my fully vaccinated family felt safe without the protection of masks. We did, however, keep them handy in case of any closer interactions.

We spent a couple of hours in the fresh air, enjoying being around people and watching dogs engage in off-leash play. We walked along the coast as our dog explored, experiencing sand and waves for the first time.

As we prepared to leave we experienced what could have been a devastating turn of events. My fatigued wife had trouble negotiating the sand and fell. Luckily, she did not injure anything, with the possible exception of her pride. However, getting her upright again would prove to be a difficult task.

It was at this point that my faith in humanity was restored. A young couple that was also leaving noticed the difficulties that we were experiencing and offered to help. With him providing leverage, we were able to get my wife standing again. We thanked him for his help and resumed our slow trip back towards the car. As we walked it seemed that most people who passed us noticed my wife's distress and asked if we needed any help. We didn't, but the offers were greatly appreciated.

Huntington Beach Dog Beach
Huntington Beach Dog Beach
(Image by Nicole Thiroux-Petersen)
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In the past year, we have seen the worst of society. Instead of rallying around a common good, people politicized the pandemic, downplayed the seriousness of the threat, and demonized leaders who instituted mask mandates, social distancing, and other precautions. Their refusal to take simple precautions not only prolonged the pandemic but threatened the lives of people like my wife.

Locked away in our cocoons, anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and others with anti-social behaviors gained outsized attention. Without outside interactions, it became too easy to forget that there are good people out there. Like the first sprout after a long, cold winter the anonymous man on the beach reminded me that there is hope. The selfish actors that have dominated our TV screens over the last year are the exceptions, not the norm.

________________________________
Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a "strong supporter of public schools." For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.

 

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)
 

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