Terry from Derry: Don’t Be Fooled Again
by Terry Boyle
Are we zoomed out yet? Did you forget to put your mask on? Have we reached that elusive curve?
I’m sure there is any number of questions such as these that you encounter every day. Living in and through a pandemic is something that we’re not prepared for. None of us, I’m sure, though we’d be among those who would witness a global plague that would devastate so many.
For generations to come, there will be those who follow after us who will judge us for what we did wrong and wonder how we ever coped with the isolation, social distancing and numerous restrictions. Whether we realize it or not, we’re undergoing an historical event that will change the course of human history in ways we cannot yet comprehend.
If we consider that it took the Black Plague of the Middle Ages almost a decade to get from China to Europe, whereas this pandemic took days to go global, it’s no surprise how significant this period of history is. To top it all, we are in unknown territory. The medical field is stumped by how the virus acts.
We are still at the point of information gathering. Once we think we know something, something else comes into play, and we are forced to re-think everything we thought we knew.
Any hopes of finding a cure soon are unfounded. The underlying feeling that we all are experiencing is uncertainty. Some small invisible thing has taken the control out of our hands, which makes us all feel vulnerable.
Some of us choose to cast caution to the wind and do stupid things. Unfortunately, those decisions can have deadly consequences.
Wearing a mask, abiding by rules that encroach on our freedom etc. is not easy maintain, especially over months. When you can’t see or negotiate with an unseen enemy who has control, you need to inform yourself how best to survive such a despot, or you’ll fall and take others with you. In such times, the information we get is not always based on fact.
Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist who lived through the great plague of London in the 17th century, describes how people blamed all sorts of ridiculous things for the disease. Wigs, which were in fashion, made from the hair of dead people (some of whom had died from the plague), were blamed for the spread of the plague. People were, and still are, understandably neurotically paranoid about the transmission of the disease.
With an abundance of fake news, it is always tempting to break with protocol and dine and drink at the local. However, if you were, as Pepys was, confronted with the sight of dead bodies being wheeled down the street, it might cause you to think twice.
Even though we are lucky not to have to witness the tragic sights Pepys and others had to see I’m not sure it’s always a good thing to distance us from such unpleasant realities. Our inclination towards denial does us no favours.
If we had to watch young people on ventilators or see loved ones alienated from those hospitalized, we might, in fact, exercise more caution. With a conservative estimate of over three million people in the U.S infected and over 130,000 deaths, we are nowhere near reaching that elusive plateau, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves otherwise.
Despite all of the bleak news, there have been moments of light-heartedness and fun. In talking to my sister in Derry, she has regaled to me stories as to how her neighbourhood has creatively coped with the restrictions. Bingo, a religion second only to the Catholic Church in Derry, was suspended due to the virus. And, since the bingo ladies could no longer meet in halls or enclosed spaces, residents got together and hired their own travelling bingo-karaoke group. Each household is now free to enjoy a gamble in the comfort of their own front yard.
So, while practising social distancing, they have also found a safe way to continue their favourite pastime. This creative venture not only allows them a semblance of normality it also builds a greater sense of community. I am sure that the after-bingo karaoke and dancing aided in the relief of stress and pent-up frustration.
The Human Spirit
The human spirit is resilient and tough, but it can be fragile. It is easy, at times like this, to think only of your own survival and forget those who, in easier times, would garner our attention.
With unemployment on the rise, there are many who cannot afford the basic things for survival. Those who have no families to talk with are prey to loneliness and depression. There are lots of casualties to the virus who are not infected who suffer because of it.
The measure of a good society is how it cares for those who are disadvantaged. A land of opportunities, such as ours, can only live up to its claims if those opportunities are available to all and not the few.
A virus, such as the one we’re experiencing, is a great leveler. Whether you’re rich or poor, black or white, you are still at risk. In such a crisis, we should push our politicians to care for the whole community and not those who can afford to look after themselves.
A point in question is the president’s attack on Obamacare. To undermine a valuable resource for over 23 million people during a pandemic is callous and self-serving. It is time to stand against such cruel strategies and point out to him a portion of the bible he so proudly endorses, in which Jesus identifies with the outcast, alienated, and poor.
If the current president were to run for election against Christ, I wonder who would win? Instead of rallying around to support his weak ego via his socials, Jesus would find himself pilloried for being too left-wing, too socially radical.
No doubt, the present man-in-charge would tweet from his hiding place all sorts of bunkum and do absolutely nothing to help those who are suffering and dying. It’s time to face the truth, there is no leadership in this country.
We have been abandoned. So, let’s, as The Who puts it so succinctly, get on (our) knees and pray, we won’t get fooled again.