Monday, May 11, 2020

Corona Chapter One

I am writing this from home ending week 8 of Covid-19 virus -induced “sheltering in place” that began  on March 14. I have been dancing around about starting a post, probably due to shell shock or perhaps, as my father used to say before beginning public remarks: “ I am like the mosquito in a nudist colony- I know what I have to do, but don’t know exactly where to start.”  

I will start with this from the 17th century French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal: “ I have discovered that all human misfortune  comes from this, being unable to sit still in a room.” Right now, a large number of states are going against medical advice and relaxing lockdown guidelines so, in the case of Georgia, people can go back to gyms, tattoo parlors and hair salons. There the pent up desire to get out of the house, to not sit still as it were, prevails despite experts’ concerns that such moves will enable virus spread.  Americans, it seems to me, are largely an impatient society and one that favors instant gratification.

The Lt. Governor of Texas, one Dan Patrick (R) called for the re-opening of the country with this: “there are more important things than living” e.g. the economy. He joins Trump in tone deaf and misleading statements about the current deadly crisis. 

The effects of the pandemic in the country, even at a relatively early stage, are catastrophic. To date over 80,000 have died, millions put out of work, businesses ruined and peoples’ retirement savings in the stock market savaged. An hour a day watching the T V news tells the grim story. And when we need a Churchill, a FDR or even a Reagan to lead and encourage us in a crisis, what we have instead is a mentally deficient, clueless and feckless narcissist. 

Our lives and society are upended. When I was a kid there was a large blowup vinyl figure, called I think a Bop Bag, almost life size, weighted  at the base, so that when you whacked it , it bounced right back . My hunch is that our nation, like that play figure will, in time, bounce back, but like that figure, hit many times, it will have lost some of its buoyancy. 

I think nonprofits, of which I have written many times in these posts, will play a big part in the recovery, although ironically many of them may not survive, especially the smaller ones.  The reasons for their importance have to do with their missions and their human capacities. 

The broad range of their missions, - health care, feeding the hungry, soothing the soul through the arts, research, religion, education- touched  every aspect of our society when it was healthy and will need to again as it recovers.  As for their human resources, nonprofits have traditionally been led and staffed by bright and, most importantly, resourceful talent.   In the best of times, although sometimes unsure of the source of their next dollar, these organizations rose to their missions’ calling. I hope you will think of the charities you love and favor them with whatever you can spare nowadays. They will be needed to help fashion the “new normal.”

I am going to stop now although I will, like so many others, comment on our current and evolving situation in the future. This horrible tragedy will inspire much work from writers, artists, musicians, politicians and pundits. One theme is likely to be how the pandemic has laid bare the great economic and social disparities in our nation. I live in a suburban (to DC) neighborhood. Here, when outside, there are many walkers, children are learning to ride two wheel bikes and their sheltered in parents are training newly adopted dogs. But not many miles away families are lining up to get charity food bank dinners. 

I count myself lucky and hope you are too, and those whom you love.  So many are not so fortunate; let us not forget them.

Comments on this and other posts that may be seen in the archive to the left are welcome at:

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