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OPINION

Don’t Look Back: Reimagining life after coronavirus

Lesley Becker

Welcome to Don’t Look Back: a conversation about what we should keep from pandemic life — and what we can now reimagine.

When this pandemic ends, no one is going to miss wearing a face mask that fogs up their sunglasses. When cafes and restaurants reopen, and dinner parties resume, few will mourn the crowd-less days they ate every meal at home.

But some of our adaptations to life in the strange era of social distancing are worth keeping. Who wants to go to the doctor’s office ever again for a prescription that could easily be handled over the phone? Shouldn’t getting into nature become a fixture of post-pandemic life? And maybe it’s time to get rid of the handshake, an antiquated ritual once meant to show strangers you weren’t carrying a weapon.

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With so much in flux, we have a chance to hit the reset button for our society — to rethink how we live, work, play, vote, and come together. We can ask with renewed vigor: What traditions ought to be thrown into history’s dumpster? What should replace them?

Welcome to Don’t Look Back, a conversation the Globe Opinion team is starting with readers about what we should keep from pandemic life — and what should now be reimagined.

Each week members of the Boston Globe’s editorial board will send out some of our favorite ideas and examples of what ought to be preserved from this period. Sign up here to get the newsletter.

You can also join the conversation and contribute your ideas here. We’ll publish our favorite reader contributions in the newsletter.

The Room Where It Happens

J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

Shed no tears for the loss of sacred cows upheld by sacred democratic institutions. The Supreme Court is now making it possible to listen to its oral arguments in real time for the first time in history — a win for legal buffs and RBG fan-girls alike. Why did it take a contagious disease to usher in such an obvious win for transparency and democracy? Who knows, but it’s a welcome change nonetheless. The Globe editorial board is urging the High Court to keep up this new experiment even when COVID-19 is long gone and the justices return to the courtroom.

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Who Rules the Road?

DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/NYT

In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo recently decided to block cars from Rue de Rivoli, a main thoroughfare of the Right Bank that runs along the Seine, so that bikes and pedestrians can roam free on the road throughout the summer, even after the city reopens. It’s a move to favor the quieter and less-polluting modes of transit that make city life better, especially when the weather’s nice. How else should cities be reimagined to become cleaner and more livable now? Robin Chase, the founder of ZipCar and of the New Urban Mobility Alliance, joined me for a Globe Op-Talk about this. Watch it here.

A Reboot Roundup

Our friends on the West Coast, a group of Los Angeles Times writers, came up with this list of what they’d like to keep in the City of Angels from pandemic life. Globe Ideas contributor Linda Wertheimer explored whether the colleges and universities making SAT and ACT tests optional this year ought to dispense with them for good. And NPR’s show 1A recently focused on whether the United States should transition to universal mail-in voting for the fall — and beyond.

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Join the conversation

What do you think? What should we keep and what should we reimagine? Tell us here.


Bina Venkataraman can be reached at bina.venkataraman@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @binajv