‘I Don’t Want to Do It, So No One Should be Able To…’

That seems to be the disposition of a few folks regarding SBL and in person meetings this year.  ‘I don’t want to do it, so I don’t think SBL should have in person meetings this year’ may not be the exact words used, but it is exactly the intention.

If you don’t want to attend in person SBL, don’t.  If you don’t want to drink milk, don’t.  If you don’t want to pay airfare to visit Tahiti, don’t.  But do you then really have the right, or really any standing, to insist that others not do what they are willing and able to do?  The answer is no, you don’t.

There’s no point in getting exercised about a meeting that you don’t want to attend.  Just don’t go.

Problem solved.

But don’t have the hubris, nay, the utter arrogance to insist that an entire conference be shuttered to in person attendees because of your own personal preferences.  Who are you to decide the actions of others, and who are you to vaunt your feeling feels to the apex of all feelings?

Many people are fully vaccinated, and many more will be by November.  Many are wanting, craving, longing for a visit to a book hall and face to face conversations with friends and the thrill of delivering a paper worked over and over again and polished to near perfection and you in your hubris may think that Zoom satisfies all longings but you are wrong.

Scholars need community just as much as families do.  If you think that Zoom is the answer, then by all means, ask session chairs to arrange a zoom dial in.  But don’t pretend that everyone feels the same way.

For my part, I hope SBL meets in person this year.  But I won’t insist you agree.  Nor will I demand that SBL bow to my wishes, or else….