I believe, when it is all said and done, when the pandemic has ended and the coronavirus has been tamed, we will look upon the victims of this virus, the people whose lives were altered, the ones who lost family, friends, and other people they knew — we will look at them the same way, and treat them the same way, as we did the veterans of Vietnam. Or veterans of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, any recent conflict.
Which is to say we will forget them. On with our lives, we will say, not my problem.
Your family member died, well how do we know it was really COVID, did they have a pre-existing condition, wouldn’t they have died anyway, eventually? If you lost your business because of a government shutdown, lost your house, we will say — that sucks, but hey, not my problem. Why didn’t you plan for a rainy day, why didn’t you have enough in savings to pay your rent, your mortgage, why did you let it get to you so much? It was your fault for not remaining solvent.
As for me, hey, look at me — I’m on my way. I’m just over here getting by. No, I didn’t experience any death because of Covid; was it even real? Wasn’t it just like the flu? That’s all it was. But it’s over now, back on the saddle we ride. Your life got destroyed, I’m sorry, but what do you want me to do about it? Not my problem. Maybe you shouldn’t have listened to the government. It was the Democrats, you know. I’m not even political. But they had it out for Trump. They did it all to get back at him, I think. Now, I’m no fan of the guy. Heck, before he abolished the Presidency and crowned himself King of America, I didn’t even like him. But what was he supposed to do?
I say all this because I see it now, already. Where I live, the world has roared back to life. Highways are packed with cars. Parks are packed with people. Streets are packed with pedestrians. You can feel it in the air — coronavirus is over. And we are simply getting back to the way things were. It has been like this for months, but only in the past few months — really, the summer months — have you seen it in full swing. We don’t even talk about the coronavirus much around these parts anymore. We have just accepted it as a new reality, like a war being fought on our own soil.
The thing is, unless it is in our own backyard, we don’t care.
Take the protests, for example. George Floyd was killed and in the aftermath of his cold-blooded murder at the hands of Minneapolis police, cities around the world erupted. We — and I say that as a collective thing — we, the American people, wanted justice. Even if you didn’t identify with George Floyd, because you were not black and you lived in some flyover state where things like that never happened, you were still, at the end of the day, a human being. And you saw the injustice in that situation. Nobody except an extreme bigot could watch that video and not find themselves moved to tears by the tragic loss of life — hopes, dreams, a flame that was extinguished — that occurred in that moment. Enough, we all said.
But then the conversation changed. It became about agitators and ANTIFA, the Federal Government sending in armed troops to Portland and other cities. Weeks earlier, Trump had protesters gassed in front of the White House; he freed his cronies, like Roger Stone, from prison; he fired the inspector generals with oversight over what he was doing. This was all happening against the backdrop of the coronavirus, as people huddled inside their homes, many of them afraid to leave because they thought, if they did, they might contract this deadly thing.
They saw this happening, and figured, well — if they can protest together, then surely I can get with my friends and family. And there were other states, not the ones where you lived, where the virus did not really exist. What did they have, a couple of cases. Little by little, your state and your city opened up, came back to life; people were back outside, and so were you.
Meanwhile, the first wave that never happened in those other parts of America, finally came. It came and because for so long they had looked on dismissively at New York and New Jersey and — at least in the news media, said, hey, not my problem! — you did the same. You looked at Texas, Arizona, Utah, wherever, and thought —jokes on you now Red States, not my problem!
And this is the fundamental issue, you see. The short term memory loss and outright lack of vision that we, as a collective, are stricken with. We get a few hours away from a problem, it’s like the problem no longer exists. That was last week, you think. That’s in Texas, not New York, you think. None of my family has it, you think. Why are you fighting a war in Vietnam, or Iraq, or wherever, when we’ve got problems right here.
In a way, it’s not that different from what lead to George Floyd’s murder. All around the country, people are hard at work now, trying to solve racism. As if it’s a thing that can be solved. It’s not a riddle or a Rubik’s Cube. It’s a way of thinking. You can’t solve that. You can only, over generations, change it. And even then, you may not be able to, if only because people have, since the dawn of civilization, been… well, stupid. Stupid enough to think, hmm, dark skin color = inferior.
But anyway, what do you expect. Whether it’s coronavirus, racism, or some other issue, like a war in some far-flung country, so long as it’s not affecting you, the likelihood of you caring is low.
Not my problem, you think. Not my problem.