Thank You, Covid.
How a virus showed us the worst in ourselves.
“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.” Edith Sitwell
Frankly, I think we’ve spent too much time on the dangers of the coronavirus. We forget what this virus has given us.
I don’t mean the deaths, the overflowing ICUs, the healthcare workers leaving the field in record numbers. What I’m talking about is our temerity.
I say temerity because this virus has unveiled so much temerity, we’re lucky to be alive. I know this sounds harsh, but we’re on a very narrow ledge here, and it’s time we gave this virus its due and be thankful.
Think back to when this virus first reared its ugly little mug. Nobody could believe something so small, so innocuous, could sweep across the globe, killing so many people. It was too movie-like to be believed.
It isn’t until they end up in ICUs, saying, “I had no idea,” that our own innocence or ignorance shows how easily we can kill ourselves.
You could say that was our first problem. We didn’t believe. Hell, thirty percent of Americans still don’t believe we have anything to worry about. It isn’t until they end up in ICUs, saying, “I had no idea,” that our own innocence or ignorance shows how easily we can kill ourselves.
Yet, climbing death numbers, even when they’re in the thousands, still isn’t enough for the conspiracists, the ones telling us this was a hoax, that we’re being injected with little microchips, and besides, how could we even consider a vaccine created in under five weeks? That’s just crazy talk.
Well, the vaccine, or its genesis, goes back to 2002, and it wasn’t a ghostly concoction at all. Vaccines essentially take the codes of a virus, introducing them to our immune systems, so our immune system basically knows how to fight back. It wasn’t a blank slate, in other words. Once scientists had the basic code for the virus, they could make the vaccine.
Not that conspiracists believed this for one second. They prefer to respond with opinions, or gathering in large protests. Forget distancing and masks. They’re an inconvenience and Americans hate inconvenience.
One couple flew to Alaska on their own private plane, inflecting people there.
Look what happened when the government closed down the airlines. People rose up, screaming that no one — especially the CDC — had the right to say they couldn’t go see their babies. One couple flew to Alaska on their own private plane, inflecting people there. Another couple flew to Hawaii and did the same thing. The virus hadn’t even arrived in those states yet (at least, not to the degree we’ve seen in other states where people fly more than they eat vegetables).
Meanwhile, within weeks of the quarantine, corporations announced they’d collapse without government support. Governments had to cough up. They spent billions on corporate bailouts. Next thing you know, the marketplace itself turned into a welfare system.
At one nursery, I found two women trying to weed thousands of plants and bushes on their own. All their staff had quit, figuring they were better off applying for government hand-outs. Forget that the money had to be repaid. It was like university loans. Everyone expected them, in time least, to be forgivable. Shouldn’t it be the same with a pandemic?
That’s the thing about temerity. It’s short-sighted. The long view doesn’t interest people. At least it didn’t until this virus came along.
If it wasn’t for this virus, who would’ve known that long-term residences were grossly underfunded? Or that our entire supply chain was dependent on other countries? Or that earlier governments, in an attempt to bring down the deficit, actually closed research facilities — the very same ones that could’ve produced the vaccines here at home.
The car lots emptied. Second-hand pickups started selling for as much as new ones.
None of this crossed our minds until the situation hit home where it really hurt. Car manufacturers couldn’t get microchips for our cars. The car lots emptied. Second-hand pickups started selling for as much as new ones.
Instead of blaming companies for taking their business offshore, we blamed the virus.
Think of that one ship stuck in the Suez Canal. It backed up container shipments in the Strait of Hormuz for weeks. Everything came to a halt, including supply here at home. Look at Walmart and Walgreens and Home Sense. Essentially every department store in North America was affected.
Yet nobody cared until inflation rose with the affected supply chain. Prices went up, salaries went down. What did we do? We blamed the virus.
Nobody cared that virus was essentially caused by factory farming and keeping animals in cages. If anything, the virus did us a favour, showing what happens when you fuck with nature.
And, God, how we’ve fucked with nature. At the latest GOP26 climate talks, China, Russia and India essentially refused recommended targets for carbon and methane reduction. Their argument? It would put thousands out of work and collapse their economies. They’ve been saying the same thing since this pandemic started.
They haven’t seen numbers like this since the Second World War, and that was when they were being shot at.
Russia, in fact, was so late introducing quarantines, the rolling death rate is now well over a thousand per day. They haven’t seen numbers like this since the Second World War when they were being shot at.
Again, thank the virus for revealing something entirely fundamental. If you don’t care about your people, they die. Millions have died.
Yet it’s not just China, Russia and India. Since this pandemic started, every country has had to look at themselves, noticing flaws, cracks, irregularities and incompetence on a national level.
Again, we can thank the coronavirus and future variants, which will no doubt rear their ugly mugs again, especially as politicians open the gates of industry and commerce, promising we can get back to normal.
Except it won’t be normal, will it? These variants aren’t going away. In Africa alone, new varieties are forming, many far more virulent than what we’re seeing now.
All we can do is hold them in abeyance, which isn’t going to happen. Once the gates are open again, as they are today, we’ll take rebounding economies to mean we’re out of the woods.
Well, that’s all fine and dandy, except the virus doesn’t give a rat’s ass about invective.
Even now, airlines are reporting record sales, so are resorts, and concerts, and everything else that represents normalcy. Which is a problem right there. We’ve challenged this virus. We’ve told it we won’t be sublimated or subdued.
Which is fine and dandy, except this virus doesn’t give a rat’s ass about invective. It’ll come back in it’s new forms, showing us that our impatience isn’t a panacea. It’ll reveal a lot of things, some we’ll learn to accept, others we’ll stand firm against.
It’s the “standing firmly against” that’s the real problem. Before this is over—if it’s ever over—we’ll see more crowded ICUs, more healthcare workers quitting, and more deaths (the majority being unvaccinated).
So, in essence, we’re back back to Edith Sitwell’s comment: “I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.” Too many people are still proud of their stupidity and their temerity and their general sense of entitlement shown recently with members of Congress who would rather pay $200 a day in fines rather than “get the jab.”
We should thank the virus for that, too. Seeing members of Congress racking up thousands in fines just goes to show how stupid, and silly, and ridiculous people can get, even in the hallowed halls of government.
So, thank you virus for opening our eyes. Thank you for pointing out just how profoundly stupid we’ve become. And please don’t stop there. Expose all the dummies you like. Let’s see them. Let’s see how long they can stay proud of their stupidity and temerity.
Robert Cormack is a satirist, novelist, and former advertising copywriter. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores. Check out Robert’s other articles and stories (absolutely free) at robertcormack.net
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