I was mulling this over the other day. Is there a bright side to the pandemic?
Looking on the bright side
Here’s what I came up with:
- Easier to find a parking space in New York City.
- That awful couple in the apartment upstairs left town for their country home.
- With Zoom, I am suddenly socializing with people I haven’t seen for years, and there is literally no excuse they can offer for cancelling on me. And, it turns out, my old friends are quite nice.
But that is all.
Look, there is nothing good to say about this.
As usual — as with religion, politics, human nature, and the value of “believing in yourself” —the Web disagrees with me.
Poetry during a pandemic
This fine magazine, Audere, recently published a poem from the 16th century, by a man dying of the pandemic (I am sick, I must die. / Lord, have mercy on us!), maybe as a reminder that we’ve been through this before and come out on the other side, maybe as a counter to the inspirational poems we’re seeing rise from the web.
For example, a website called “To the best of our knowledge”, which is dedicated to “Exploring the Deeper End of Ideas,” notes that “one of the most popular pandemic poems to date was authored by Kitty O’Meara, a retired teacher in Lake Mills.” Deepak Chopra read her poem on the web, for example.
With due respect to retired teachers in Lake Mills, I must disagree with Ms. O’Meara’s opinion.
In her poem, she marvels that “in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways” — i.e., in the extremely temporary absence of greenhouse gases — “the earth began to heal.” She writes that “people began to think differently,” and she anticipates that “when the danger passed … the people joined together again … and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
Well, half of that poem is not true, and the second half is not likely!
Religion in the time of the pandemic
Where in the world did this virus come from?
Meir Mazuz, the former spiritual leader of Israel’s Yachad party, and an influential Orthodox rabbi, thinks he knows.
Divine retribution for Israel’s most recent gay pride parade, he says.
The Arab countries have been spared, he (falsely) claims, because they don’t have gay people there.
Iran, a Persian country, Mazuz adds, was being punished for “their hatred of Israel.”
And wrote religious website, The Trumpet, “So what is God doing now? And why hasn’t He saved mankind from coronavirus?… God is allowing the coronavirus as correction for our sins.”
So do only bad people die of coronavirus? Remember, back in the old days, God could focus like a laser beam on the sinful, killing, for example, Aaron’s sons without wiping out any innocent bystanders. Has God gotten sloppy in Her old age?
Or does God instead protect the devout, rather than aiming the virus at the wicked.
For example, a New York rabbi, in response to the initial spread of the virus, wrote on the Web on March 6:
In the portion of Yisro we read about the giving of the Torah. At the time of the giving of the Torah, all sickness was removed. We are taught that when we observe the Torah, we should look upon it as if we are receiving it for the first time.
“If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in [H]is his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”
Then, on March 19, the rabbi sent a very different message.
“I received a call,” he wrote, “that my test … came back positive for COVID-19…. I advise anyone who had contact with me within 6 feet should contact their physician[.]”
(He is expected to recover fully.)
People coming together
They say that times like these bring out the best in people. For example, in response to the pandemic, America’s biggest companies are laying off massive numbers of employees, ending their insurance benefits, and price-gouging medical equipment up to 1500 percent. Families are coming together in quarantine, and domestic violence has shot through the roof. And fraudulent cures have flooded the internet.
But like the fella side, in times of national threat, it doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican or Democrat — we are all Americans, when push comes to shove. For example, Donald Trump’s insults towards Joe Biden, the Democratic leader have been … well, unchanged.
“It does amaze me that President Obama has not supported Sleepy Joe,” Trump said a few days ago. “He knows something that you don’t know. That I think I know. But you don’t know…. [T]here’s something he feels is wrong. I think I know.”
The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is running the coronavirus response, defended his decision to withhold vital life-saving equipment from Democratic-leaning states, saying, “the federal stockpile was supposed to be our stockpile — it’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use.”
(The federal website was quickly updated to be consistent with Kushner’s lie.)
And, on Fox News, conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly noted, “Many people who are dying, both here and around the world, were on their last legs anyway,” adding, “A simple man tells the truth.” (What he said was not actually “the truth,” but, rather, what passes for the truth on Fox News, i.e., lies.)
As a big law firm partner recently wrote on the Web, “Democrats cost lives.”
I just do not believe that Kitty O’Meara is right. I do not think human beings will learn from this; I do not think that the Earth will heal.
If we survive this, the next day, the coal-fired power plants will plug right back in. And even in the depths of despair, the Red State/Blue State invective machine has not slowed a bit.
Well, there’s always hydroxychloroquine!
People bad / trees good
On the other hand, the cherry trees are in bloom, and almost no people are around to see them. Life is better, for cherry trees and for everything, when there are no people around.
Why can’t people be more like cherry trees?
Image by Tumisu / Pixabay