I saw Covid as a test of morality, and the bogus claim that our society comes together in a crisis. The latter claim is still part of our mythology of the Second World War.

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Very timely! I've been struggling with this since the blockades in Ontario and more recently with the lifting of restrictions: why we're declaring the pandemic over now when it clearly isn't.

To your point about how it comes down to values & politics: this makes me think about majority rule and the human inclination to vote & act on issues in a self-serving way. We'll never overcome the hardest problems (equality, climate change) by ignoring the plight of those hit the hardest because it’s not an imminent danger to the wider majority.

It’s interesting that the earlier flu pandemic had a lot of the same social polarization that exists today (around mask wearing, even). I contrast these reactions with what I saw riding the Tokyo subway before our latest pandemic: loads of people wearing a mask out of an obligation they felt they had to their community, with no mandates. It makes the North American reaction to this one simple act - wearing a mask - so hard to comprehend. Now it’s turning into a symbol, like the Canadian flag, of what camp you belong to.

I’m hopeful as we head towards this status quo that more and more will adopt some of the values I saw on display in Tokyo — I just worry about how much time those kinds of cultural shifts can take.

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Hi Dan,

How does this fit with things we don’t seem to accept. Aircraft failures seem a case where just 2 crashes of the 737max and another one was not acceptable.

There we put the brakes on hard before we have time for inurement.

In earlier times it was perhaps city fires that had a similar we must change this now reaction.

Is this some instinctive calculus that says this is no something to get inured to?

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Stan, I think (big surprise) the history here is illuminating: Civil aviation was at least as unsafe as automobiles between 1903 and 1945. But planes were relatively small and when they crashed, they weren't enormous disasters. In that sense, they were like cars. But post-1945, civil aviation grew madly, both in terms of numbers of flights but, crucially, also in terms of the size of airplanes and the number of people on board. Crashes became disasters. The growing danger was obvious but it was only after a 1956 mid-air collision that killed 128 people that the US got serious about regulating it for safety. (This is the "tombstone effect": Dealing with foreseeable problems only after someone has died.) The regulatory bodies also (eventually) implemented very high safety standards, in part because crashes were such severe, shocking events. Over the decades, safety improved very dramatically. As crashes got rarer, it had the paradoxical effect of making the drama of a crash even more dramatic -- giving everyone even more incentive to find flaws and fix them. A half century of this trajectory has brought us where we are now -- with an astonishingly safe form of transportation in which any blemish on the record is met with swift, effective action.

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