This departs from my usual blog posts about my books, or the thrilling life of an author with cats. This is one of two personal essays related to current events that are profoundly affecting our world. In the other, I talk about racism and the need to be allies for life. This essay talks about community. The prospect of dying from an infectious, incurable disease has raised the stress level across the planet. It's exposed weaknesses in all our various governments and healthcare systems, and in the way we treat each other. Now, more than ever, we need to be friends for life.
No Country Is Perfect
Nothing like a global pandemic to expose the inadequacies in our leaders, our governments, and our healthcare systems. I recently read an interview with former government foreign affairs specialist Dr. Fiona Hill. In her opinion, populist leaders—those elected primarily on the power of their public persona—are the least well-equipped to meet challenges to government process and procedure.
Here in the U.S., we had a close call about 17 years ago with a SARS epidemic. Nasty infectious disease, but not easily transmitted. Our government took effective action and contained the outbreak. National healthcare specialists wisely recognized their success owed a large debt to luck, and set about improving their response capability. Leaders funded studies, staff positions, and programs to give us a fighting chance against the next global epidemic.
However, in our imperfect system of government, all it takes is one president who is bored by history and doesn't believe in science to sweep away a decade's worth of preparedness. And in this particular case, a president who is actively irritated by the successes of his predecessors because they make him look bad. Not to mention, a president who lies about everything.
The entirely predictable result? The largest outbreak in the world, and we're just getting started.
Friends for Life vs. a Global Pandemic
Our best hope is to treat each other like friends we care about. Stay home if you can, wear masks and wash hands when you can't, and avoid large gatherings where the virus can more easily spread to new victims. Being friends for life saves lives.
By the way, if you think being “forced” to wear a mask encroaches on your freedom, please feel free to take your freedom to another store, or buy online, or grow your own. The Coronavirus doesn't care about you one whit; all it wants is another warm body to infect.
I suspect it might be news to you, but other people who choose to wear masks and stand 6 feet or 2 meters away are not doing it to make you feel guilty or look bad. They're doing it to keep you safe from them.
They are treating you like you're a friend they care about, even when you callously choose not to do the same.