Like those of us who believe that we’re trapped in a deadly pandemic, I avoid social gatherings. This means more time at home, which means more time in front of the television. Other than the cable news shows that some of us label “fake news,” I pretty much ignore network television. But I do enjoy weird, offbeat movies. This makes me wonder if dark films are healthy during a health lockdown.
At the beginning of this forced hibernation, we moved and got a bigger TV. It came with some extras, so I hit the “search” button. Recently, I cued up “Ad Astra,” “The Midnight Sun,” and “Raised by Wolves.” It finally dawned on me that all three were science-fiction tales dealing with parents separated from their children. The genre is consistent with my personality but what about the subject matter? Had my separation from my own family crept into my subconscious along with the depression that can accompany such isolation?
I also realized I haven’t been bombarding the Enterprise with columns lately. Even the ugly, suicidal end of the Trump administration and the implosion of the party that he coopted couldn’t force me back to my keyboard. This was serious stuff. So was an exchange on Facebook where a MAGA associate explained, “It’s simple, Jerry, everything you know is wrong.” Since there’s no middle ground for such an apocryphal assessment, I think I subconsciously decided not to waste energy arguing. Trump came in proclaiming unfounded election fraud and leaves with the same cry of foul play. Both have been disproven but the members of his cult are dug in. My op-eds won’t change their minds.
One of the topics I am supposedly completely “wrong” about is the pandemic itself. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates between 22,000 to 60,000 deaths annually from the flu. The current “hoax” has already claimed 10 times that number and the effects of the recent holiday season haven’t even hit the graphs yet. Still, people declare that the basics of protection, wearing a mask, social distancing, etc., violate their constitutional rights. These same people jump into cars to go to virus super-spreader events without protesting the rigid regulations for just about all aspects of the four-wheeled missile they pilot down our busy streets. And hypocrisy is asphyxiated in the smoke from their exhaust.
For the “hoax” to work, all the government stats also have to be wrong, right? So, if the numbers coming from the White House are unimpeachable, if you’ll excuse the pun, who do you believe? The CDC is wrong because a Stanford radiologist turned wannabe epidemiologist has convinced the never-wrong administration that herd immunity is the way to go? Who needs a pesky vaccine distribution then? Given a fatality rate of just 1%, which is low, three million people in the U.S. would likely die along that road to group immunity. Of course, like the election, as a hypothetical these numbers are rigged anyway. The administration wouldn’t lie to us. Right?
Of course, the GOP doesn’t have a monopoly on hypocrisy. High-ranking Democrats have been seen not following their own rules. Most noticeably the governor of California was spotted at a fancy dinner at a popular restaurant. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was also caught flaunting the distancing she so publicly espouses. Ask any parent about the classic “Do as I say, not as I do” contradiction.
So, how is any work getting done at all? Because our healthcare professionals are humanitarians. Theirs is the politics of pain and survival. While I pine over not being able to be with my own healthy family, members the hospital staff, earthbound angels all, sit with dying patients whose families aren’t allowed into the room with them at the end times. While I am home watching fantastical movies, these same health heroes are finishing up a devastating shift or two or three, and then go home and try to ignore the possibility that they might be bringing the deadly virus home to their own babies.
If the truly essential workers can walk into the teeth of a pandemic day after day, we non-combatants can do our small part to help. Moping isn’t going to cut it. We need to keep fighting for sanity and honesty. I am not right all the time but if small personal sacrifices will help, we need to do them. If the virus is real, we will save lives. If wrong, I’m in good company and only out a little inconvenience. Remember that this too will pass. And, and along with dark movies, future students will be reading history books about those who sacrificed and those who were selfish charlatans who let their neighbors die for a political lie.