Magazine June 1, 2021, Issue

People Have Gotten ‘Institutionalized’ by COVID

(Roman Genn)
It is time for everybody to embrace our liberation from coronavirus prison

In the film The Shawshank Re­demption, the elderly character Brooks gets released after 50 years in prison. Instead of celebrating, however, he is tentative — and shortly after experiencing the freedom of the outside world, he hangs himself.

“These walls are funny,” Morgan Freeman’s character Red explains to his fellow prisoners as they process the news. “First you hate them, then you get used to them. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s ‘institutionalized.’”

As vaccines have brought the promise of liberation from a year of masks, lockdowns, canceled travel plans, and forgone family visits, there is a

This article appears as “Escape the COVID Prison” in the June 1, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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