So here I am again, apologizing for not having posted in a while. I’d love to say it’s because my day job is interfering again. But actually what happened is I contracted the coronavirus and succumbed to it. I was THIS close to figuring out what that bright light was, and then I realized I forgot to turn off the iron, and by the time I took care of that, the dimensional rift was closed, and so here I am. Again.
Disclaimer: I did not contract the coronavirus (that I know of), and I did not die (that I know of), and I did not resurrect (no deity would ever agree to that, so I’m certain of that one). I did, however, forget to turn off the iron. Fortunately it has an auto-shutoff feature.
Everybody else is talking about the coronavirus, so I figured I might as well get in on the action. Before I proceed, I need to remind you to take the necessary precautions. Since the coronavirus is all over this article, please wash your eyes thoroughly before reading. Please also disinfect the mouse pointer and individually scrub each pixel on your screen. Please do not let the words in this blog post gather in a public space, and if you’re drinking a martini while reading, please make sure that it is fist bumped, not shaken.
Our world was polarized before this virus hit. And only in such a world could a virus get politicized. There could not be a more apolitical organism (can I even call it that?) than a virus. It will hijack the reproductive machinery of any cell, with no discernment for political party, gender, religion, or predisposition toward pineapple on pizza (boom).
I’ve heard and even made the argument that this virus is no worse than the flu, which has admittedly killed far more people. But the flu is already far more widespread and has had far more time to do its dirty work. I’ve also heard and even made the argument about only 2% of us actually being as risk – primarily the elderly and people with existing health conditions. But therein lies another difference between the coronavirus and the flu: the coronavirus kills a lot more at-risk people. And that alone ought to be enough to convince you that health organizations are not going overboard at all in response to this virus. I had tickets to the Frozen Four College hockey tournament in Detroit, which has now been closed to fans. So yeah, I’m disappointed. But I also have an 89-year-old mother who would probably not survive the coronavirus. Which should be more important? And why should the answer change when we raise it to the level of our entire society? We all know and love somebody in the 2%.
Meanwhile the President is telling us Europe and Mexico are the reasons we have any specks of coronavirus in America.
Instead of lashing out and looking for an enemy to blame (like we do in response to just about everything we don’t like), we should take this opportunity to recognize the real lesson from all of this: our perception of ourselves as the dominant species on Earth is arrogance at its extreme.
In 1897, H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” was published. You will have difficulty finding a more incredible literary response to two (at the time) fairly recent developments in our understanding of the universe around us: the first detailed map of the planet Mars, and newfound insight into how vulnerable we are to creatures too small to be seen with the naked eye. Wells’ Martian invaders were profoundly more advanced than us, and they quickly pushed us to the point of extinction before falling prey to microscopic warriors.
Viruses are the ultimate suicide bombers. Not only do they not care, they don’t even not care. They’re not even alive. In fact, for something that small and uncaring and unalive, they are remarkably accomplished. I don’t think viruses get enough credit for the impact they’ve had on the world. Perhaps this latest virus is just the embodiment of a protest.
This is nothing new, either. We have routinely fallen prey to things without brains, throughout our history, at rates that make wars look like child’s play. The Black Death. The Spanish Flu. Tide Pods. We like to think we are all that. But we are not even some of this.
And so it shall pass, that we will survive the coronavirus, and eventually even our economies will fully recover, and life will return to its arrogant equilibrium. And then an asteroid will smash us to pieces.