Content 21 + Please note that it should not be treated as medical advice. By now, and so indicative of the world we live in, the coronavirus has seized the public imagination more than anything since A.I.D.S and Charles Manson. It has ‘gone viral' in ways that YouTube never dreamed of. It is, as the concerned media loves to call it now, a ‘Pandemic'. And since, not surprisingly, no one has been able yet to pull a vaccine — like a chunk of gold from an asphalt highway– the fear goes on and on. The world has come to a screeching halt.
I do not wish to minimize this or in any way play loose with the harm it has done. But, as time wanders past the slamming doors of businesses and schools calling Time Out, and panic begins to grip the human mind like pliers in a torture chamber, I have noticed some trends, clarified some opinions I have about the human race, and drawn a few tentative conclusions. I warn you in advance, some of these conclusions may appear harsh. No offense intended.
For one thing, the frenzy is understandable in the sense that we now live in a global ghetto where coins pass from pocket to pocket at nano speed, and soiled hands then scratch and pick and pluck at the various orifices which the human face supplies us with. It apparently took centuries to teach people to wash their hands after fingering their own or someone else's nether regions — pleasure zones and otherwise. Even in hospitals around the world, the concept of sterile technique or simple hand-washing took ages to catch on. Amazing that the human race ever came up with that ‘wheel' idea that must have had them rolling drunkenly in the cornfields in wild celebration for the next thousand years.
Moreover, we are constantly rubbing shoulders with people who have just landed from far away, and these people bring their spices with them when they come. And sally forth up and down the same escalators, jam into the same buses and trains, and huddle in the same elevators as the rest of us. The world is full of hatred, but it's all up close and personal.
In 1347, the Bubonic Plague arrived in Genoa from the Orient in the form of fleas attached to the bodies of the living rats that commonly infested the ships. People started dying and they didn't stop until about 1/3 of the population was annihilated. I try to imagine those days of low life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality amid the ordeal of birth, and the sundry illnesses that beset them…and then Bubonic Plague. Which, by the way, kept returning periodically to hound people into death for years after that.
For those unfortunates, death was so commonplace that at times I try to imagine what their psychological relationship with dying might have been. Certainly different from ours. Not that they thought of death as something cuddly and felicitous; no doubt their terror would rank with ours. Yet death walked…and danced… among them. Death infiltrated everything they did. Death snatched them and their children with the cold-hearted grace of a devil ripping a frisbee out of the air. Sure, they had ‘God' — you might say. But for those people God was no Good Samaritan escorting them gently across the divide. God was a vindictive brute bent on punishment. What a carnival it must have been to live (and die) back then.
The Bubonic Plague attacked the immune systems of people who had no natural defenses. The same thing happened when the Europeans started landing en mass in the New World. Before you could say Bob Cratchit the Native Americans were dying of a thousand different ‘Fevers'. All brought over by their friendly guests and introduced over Thanksgiving Dinner.
Well, it wasn't quite that simple, but you get the idea. And again, the indigenous people just weren't ready. No way they could have been.
So it's clear to me that in a crowded world, we are going to see more and more of this sort of thing. Our planet — filthy, stinky, putrid and plastic as it is — is a veritable greenhouse for viruses.
It is also very likely to be true that viruses are being generated artificially by military (and possibly terrorist) organizations the world over, and that these ‘experiments' are being secretly carried out in dull-looking, nondescript buildings sitting right in the middle of YOUR community. Just like every single day, thousands upon thousands of little animals are being put to death right under our noses, in many cases for the stupidest of reasons. It's called ‘research'.
BIG DISCLAIMER: This is NOT about conspiracy theories. Every time disaster occurs, immediately a pack of Lame Brain Losers crawl out of the woodwork honking like a bunch of geese with their wild notions and urban legends. The latest I have heard out of Russia, for instance (Russia was my home for 10 years and I love the russian people) is that the American military planted the virus in China to destroy the Chinese economy.
Well, the only thing wrong with that is that the virus has now spread everywhere else INCLUDING the United States and also that it seems to be attacking (killing, that is) mostly senior citizens with respiratory and cardiovascular problems — people who just need a nudge in order to go tumbling off the scaffold. Coronavirus has provided that nudge. Have you noticed ? — children are not catching it. So, if the theory holds, the U.S. government has concocted a virus that will kill only old and already fragile people the world over.
What a coup.
Another ludicrous theory I used to hear a lot was this humdinger: White people in America deliberately introduced crack cocaine in the ‘black community' in order to fuck everybody up in the Hood. a way to keep black folks down. Conspiracy theories. God help us all.
And if this is the level where your mind works, then please don't read any further. I have nothing to offer you but sanity, and it's not your cup of tea…
So let's please forget about conspiracy theories while keeping well in mind that there are indeed such things as laboratory-generated viruses. It is also possible — just as at Chernobyl back in 1986 — that human error could factor in and release something toxic out into the community that should have stayed in the lab. Entirely possible. But again, I would emphasize Human Error. Human Fallacy. Human Weariness. Sometimes just Human Stupidity.
Not the Intelligence required to live up to the dream of the conspiracy theory buffs. We have not reached the Star Wars stage just yet. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and plane crashes happen. Shit happens. And in this sweaty, steamy, disease-wired world, viruses are GOING TO afflict us. Maybe more and more. NOT a conspiracy!
A second thing I have noticed is how people have reacted and how those agencies which can benefit from something like this have pulled out all stops in order to do just that. I start with the media. Let's get one thing perfectly clear: even as the governments of some countries such as Russia and China will go out of their way to suppress the exchange and dissemination of information, the Western media takes the opposite approach and will jump through any hoop possible to generate and promote controversy (at all times) and (it is in no way beyond the ‘moral compass' of the media) even hysteria.
The coronavirus is not the first time that the rampaging media boys and girls have started up with the heavy metal music. A few years ago Mad Cow Disease was going to consume us all. Then it was Y2K. Remember ? As the clock wound down to the year 2000, all the computers were going to crash, plunging the earth into everlasting darkness. People were actually having End of the World parties. It turned out to be a lot of foolishness.
I have noticed, as everyone buys up all the canned products they can seize from the shelves and runs for cover (like they used to do in Florida after the annual autumn hurricane warning), that an element of exaggeration and even MeToo-ism has crept in here. Let me explain what I mean. I am not talking about #MeToo the sexual assault thing. In fact, it's nothing about that subject (sigh of relief). What I mean is — there is panic and then there is panic. Both kinds tend to bring out the worst in people.
One is an age-old response to cataclysm. People are stunned into disbelief. Some run about helter skelter and others just stand there waiting for the sky to fall and not believing what they are seeing. And naturally there are always a few who quickly size up the situation and rapidly (usually criminally) fish out a way to turn it to their own profit.
This happens every time. It happened in the aftermath of the New Orleans earthquake and it happened when the Trade Towers went down. People suffer and die. Families weep and burn candles and start the mourning ‘process'. And before you know it Benny the Scam Artist is at your door in his ‘Save the Planet' sweatshirt collecting money to help the victims. Yes, evil and enterprising Entrepreneurs of the Sewer rise and profit. Conspiracy theories abound.
Every time. Have you ever wondered what it must have been like that morning in Pompeii, over 2000 years ago? Death, despair, and Denial. The only thing they were missing was CNN. But I am here to tell you that even back then there were people who died clutching their coins, crawling around the floor under the darkening shower of stones. If you don't believe me, visit the ruins of Pompeii sometime. Maybe they met their doom crying out “Those damned Russians!!”
The second — and here many of my readers and I will part company — reflects a strange, weird — but in our society not only comprehensible but almost inevitable — kind of trendiness.. In my opinion, people are now Over-Reacting because it is expected of them, and to do anything less would be bad for their image.
In other words, in modern society, one is constantly under the microscope. Especially in the West. Anything you say or do if you are in the public eye — even if you ripped off a Twitter-fart while drunk or you misbehaved in one of the trillion ways the Woke Police will get after you for, your goose is cooked. We should all know that by now.
OK: Suppose that you own a shop. A thriving shop. Then the virus hits. Or something. The Official Panic Button is pushed and everybody, like a big gong just went off in the air, rushes to close their business. They want to protect the community. They want to do the right thing. But especially they want to be SEEN doing the right thing. Except YOU. You see no reason to close and so you stay open. Of course you grab a small profit. But everybody else is pissed off at you, not only because you made money and they didn't, but because you refused to play the game.
In the aftermath you will be crucified. “The human race was under siege and this mother-f — — — didn't take it seriously. All he wanted was the profit !!!” — they will scream from the lecterns and pulpits. And in this way they will destroy you.
So what do you do? You close down too. Not to save anybody from The Virus, which isn't killing anybody on your street anyway, but because it would be bad form, bad taste to stay open.
So everything closes. AND IT DOESN'T NEED TO CLOSE.
Another aspect of the Great Panic that, I confess, elicits from me the grimmest of involuntary smiles, is this: all of a sudden, amid the multi-billion strong throng that comprises the Technology Cult, (should I whisper now?) there is No App Button that can be pushed to make all this go away in a single click!
Nope. Sorry guys. And now, as the human race shrinks in terror, maybe its most perceptive members can relate to the wild confusion of the laboratory rat, the blind anxiety of the stray dog flung with other ‘critters' likewise doomed in the decompression chamber. F.E.A.R. And at the moment there is not a damned thing that all the technology in the world can do about it.
Poetic justice, I always say, when nature rises up above the skyscrapers and shows us WHO'S BOSS.
But if this virus was somehow indeed the product of human rats foraging around in laboratories trying to come up with the Ultimate Weapon, then the quality of the poetic justice simply intensifies.
However, I return to my main thesis, which is that human mania is now becoming more of a problem than viral sorcery.
The coronavirus feasts on old people and individuals with special problems such as diabetes, severe asthma, and other maladies of internal organs, etc.. In other words — as if it had a vicious, malevolent mind of its own — it strikes out at those who can't fight back as well as the more able-bodied. It has killed over 7000 of the most vulnerable. That's sad. It is a sad, sad, sad Statistic. Nevertheless, this virus is NOT an automatic death sentence, at least not in its present form, for the Vast Majority of people. Look at this chart:
Next question. How many of you non-readers of history are aware of the fact that in 1919 a virus called The Spanish Flu killed as many as 30 million people?
An estimate from 1991 says it killed 25–39 million people. A 2005 estimate put the death toll at probably 50 million (less than 3% of the global population), and possibly as high as 100 million (more than 5%). But a reassessment in 2018 estimated the total to be about 17 million, though this has been contested.
Straight out of Wikipedia. Whatever the accurate number of the Spanish Flu, the Coronavirus has claimed but a pittance of that horrible total.
My Russians friends are shaking their heads and telling me, “Eric, more people than that die every year of the grippe (flu) in Russia. What makes this coronavirus special?
Should we have shut down the world for this?
OK — let me tip my hand. At first, I believed the hype. I thought that this might be a World's End thing. And indeed, one could argue that because of modern communication, mass annihilation has been averted. Preventive medicine. OK, I get the point.
But now I am gradually — Curse my soul ! — beginning to have doubts. I can't pin it down — it is just a funny feeling I have. But a lot of the ‘funny feelings' I have had over the years have eventually been borne out by the facts.
In this sense I believe that we have the media both to thank and to blame. Awareness is one thing, and THAT is what our journalists do. Overkill and emotional profiteering in something else. And journalists do that also.
So what we have now is the Ultimate Statement of political correctness. The world is in lockdown, and is awaiting the signal as to when it can start back up again in a socially acceptable way. When it will seem Woke enough and not just something that Trump and Putin want.
What will happen is this, and trust me as an elder, as one who has already lived too long: this is what is going to happen, especially in the West.
People will just get BORED with sitting around. They will say, “OK god-dammit, we've done our bit. But this is gettin' to be a pain in the ass. I want to see some FOOTBALL.”
And they will be right. And they will simply go back to work. Then, noticing the change of mind, the latest trend, the government will sanction it, and Time Magazine will publish an issue blaring the headline “America Goes Back to Work.”
In 30 days. Call me back on April 15. Call me from your office because that's where you will be. Like nothing ever happened.