It’s taken me almost eight months to find the right voice to say any of this.
I had a fundamental belief that when disaster movies depict the American government not taking an impending apocalypse seriously, that the film’s writers had a far too cynical view of human nature. If the movie is halfway over, and the government still isn’t taking the Sharknado seriously because of electoral considerations and the economy, I would interpret that as lazy satirical writing.
Yet it is exactly what I see unfolding before my very eyes.
I don’t know precisely how one would define an apocalypse, but the point is that I ASSUMED that beneath all the games that our political parties play with each other, they would stop it all once something even half as deadly as COVID-19 came along. Maybe it’s not, like, a plague-plague; perhaps it is merely a minor pandemic when considered against other historical pandemics. Yet still hundreds of thousands of real, actual human lives hanging in the balance of every decision not taken seriously. Inaction is America’s plan, for reasons that amount to the amassing of political power or/for an everlasting desire for the accumulation of wealth.
Realizing I placed too much faith in humanity has altered how I wish to direct my life’s course. I no longer believe humanity is capable of utopian logic-based harmony this century, so I am no longer expecting that to be the case. Small communes and communities of like-minded peaceable individuals is the answer to avoid ills associated with the perpetual negative aspects of the broken social contract we all still pretend to follow. Make an impact in your circle of friends and loved ones — fixing society is not on the agenda this season. I cannot change the world.
There is no doubt that one political party is worse than the other when it comes to the degeneration of logical reasoning and honest political discourse over the last three decades. But this isn’t strictly about them, or about that. I fundamentally believe that each Representative, Senator, and Governor who believes in the seriousness of this virus but ISN’T willing to put pride aside to appeal personally to mask-mandate opponents, is making a catastrophic mistake. I don’t care which political party any of them belong to — the mildness of our viral apocalypse we are attempting to stave off (2 million potentially dead) notwithstanding. Mask mandates need to happen nationwide, irrespective of the sad reality of political blowback to science-based policymaking.
Anyone who continues to refuse to wear a mask in public is morally reprehensible. An obvious compensation for the fear that lies just beneath their denial. Read a book.
Human lives are not valued as highly as money by a much larger percentage of the population than I thought a year ago. By definition, I was naive. I was naive to think that when push came to shove they’d all drop the political games and work together to get all the right policies in place in order to combat the virus. I held more faith than humanity deserved, despite being called a pessimist my whole life.
I don’t know what to do with that information. What I did personally was move to a random rural town in the Pacific Northwest, delete my social medias, and enjoy the cool breeze and foresty view out of my new living room windows while the rest of the world sorts itself out, for better or worse. Because I ain’t getting this virus. I’d have fled the country for good if immigration wasn’t such a nightmare these days — countries don’t want our diseased humans breathing in their airspace. I’ll be the last person alive with a preserved original N95 mask. The forest doesn’t carry coronavirus. People do. I can avoid people. I bought those N95s and started social distancing in 2018. Good luck out there.
“Sometimes it really is the end of the world. How would your story change if the stakes were cataclysmic?” —writers’ storytelling prompt, John August
“My powers of empathy, my ability to reach into another’s heart, cannot penetrate the blank stares of those who would murder innocents with abstract, serene satisfaction. […] I know that the hardening of lines, the embrace of fundamentalism and tribe, dooms us all.” —Barack Obama, 2004