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Category: Humans

Give Thanks
Damn right, we should give thanks!

Thanks that things aren’t even worse than they are. Thanks that Joe Biden (can you believe it? Joe freakin’ Biden!?) is the next President of the United States. Thanks that he didn’t die before election day. Thanks that slightly more than half of your fellow citizens aren’t complete idiots.

Also thanks that you aren’t dead. Yet. Thanks that maybe, perhaps, possibly, keep your fingies crossed one or all of those vaccines will actually work. Thanks that your house was not engulfed by a monster wildfire, clobbered by a super-hurricane, or drowned in this year’s thousand-year flood. Yet, yet, and yet.

And, most of all, thanks that you’re not too disillusioned and bitter to give thanks at all.
Fun With Boating
Pardon me if I am belaboring the point, but I can’t get past the fact that almost half the country actually thought What’s-his-name was a good choice for President of the United States…after watching him botch the job for four years. And please, don’t come at me with all that stuff about tribalism and alternate universes and authoritarian mindsets. None of that is enough to explain the craziness.

On the other hand, we are all in the same boat here. In that spirit, I was ready to put this conundrum behind me, move on, and simply hope for the best. But then I saw this headline coming out of South Dakota: “Dying COVID-19 Patients Still Don’t Believe The Virus Is Real.” In some pathetic little compartment in the back of my mind I had been holding out the possibility that the harsh, deadly reality of the pandemic — evidenced by the sickness and death of friends and family — would finally snap these legions of misguided souls out of their conspiracy-fueled mania and bring them back to Planet Earth. Another faint hope extinguished, I’m afraid.

The bearer of these sad tidings was Jodi Doering, an ER nurse who has been witnessing the recent spike of cases up close. “It’s like a fucking horror movie that never ends,” she says. Many of Ms. Doering’s coronavirus victims could not, would not, believe their diagnoses. Perhaps it’s cancer, they moaned hopefully. Or a really bad flu or pneumonia. But not COVID, because that’s a hoax, and you can’t die of a hoax. So true, and yet these people — even on their deathbeds — refused to entertain the most obvious explanation for what they were experiencing: that it was not a hoax, but rather exactly what every expert available said it was. “Insane” is not a strong enough word to describe their state of delusion.

Yes, we are all in the same boat. And that’s what scares me most. These people are in my goddam boat! They and their chosen representatives make decisions that affect all of us, sane and insane alike. Their only information source is a guy who lies all the time. And they believe him, it now appears, even if it kills them. Yow.

Allow me to sum up: we are trapped in this boat with crazies, and we are on the high seas of a pandemic. The crazies are infected with the virus, but they insist that they aren’t. And they won’t wear masks. And…they would rather die than change their minds.

So where is this boat headed, I wonder?
All's Fear
Fear is the mind-killer, they say, and it seems like we’re all half brain-dead these days.

There are the usual sets of phobias, of course. We all have our favorites. Fear of heights is a popular one. Snakes and spiders get their share of trepidation, too. And who doesn’t love the fear of personal inadequacy?

Those are mostly irrational fears, as we know, grounded in our own personal kinks and in self-absorption. This year, however, we’ve also seen the spiking of a host of rational fears. And yes, there is such a thing as a rational fear. Fear of dying in the plague, for instance, is a perfectly logical brand of terror. It’s possible to overdo it, I suppose, but we will likely be looking at half a million American deaths from it by the time the Orange Julius Caesar is finally excreted and flushed away. You’d have to be crazy not to dread the COVID.

On top of that very reasonable concern are the angsts over global warming, over the death of democracy, of the end of civilization, to say nothing of the fear that we will not be able to purge His Lowness after all.

So we’ve got plenty to fear these days besides fear itself. And I don’t know about you, but it’s starting to wear a little bit. Which brings us to Halloween. It’s the “holiday” built on fear. Do we really need that right now?

I can testify that I’ve never experienced anything like certifiable scarediness on All Hallows Eve. I mean, toddlers with sheets over their heads? Crappy plastic witch costumes? Unconvincing masks? I’m sorry, none of that ever gave me a chill, much less feel anything like real terror.

Still, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Unless, that is, you’re one of those people who like to watch those movies that scare them. I mean, really scare them. Give them nightmares and all kinds of other bad feelings. They like fear. I’ve never understood this addiction to terror. If fear is the mind-killer, then these people were already half brain-dead before 2020.

On the other hand, maybe these scaredophiles don’t need protecting. In fact, they may take to this current flood of fright like a fish takes to water. Who is to say they wouldn’t be the only ones to keeps their heads in a world gone mad with fear. Maybe it’s the people who get their kicks from watching others being chainsawed to death who are our only hope for sanity in these troubled times?

Now, that is a frightening thought.
Sad, Also Angry
The pandemic has already produced more than its share of human drama and will probably be responsible for a lot more before it’s done. These stories have been uniformly sad, of course. It’s hard to get anything but darkness from all that death and suffering.

There is still room, however, for anger. In fact, anger can easily become one's dominant emotional state. Spend a few moments listening to the gibberings of our president and you’ll feel what I mean. Then change the channel, please. You don’t need that in your life right now.

Other stories are worth paying attention to, however — even if they end up making you mad. One story in particular caught my eye recently. It features a regular guy from Texas named Tony Green. Tony had been a Trump supporter, and he was deeply suspicious about the pandemic. He thought it was a hoax perpetrated by the media, and liked to call it the Scamdemic. He finally got fed up with the limits that had been put on his life, and held a party in his home with five other family members.

That party proved to be a super-spreader event. Fourteen members of his family, including Tony himself, came down with COVID-19; two died. Let’s be clear that Tony loves all of those people. Apparently, he had an especially close relationship with his father-in-law, who was one of those who died. He is understandably shaken and remorseful about the tragedy he brought to his family. He knows now that he was thoughtless and foolish. He accepts that he is utterly responsible for what has happened.

I watched the interview he gave with Anderson Cooper. He was in genuine anguish over what he had done. I could feel his pain. I could empathize. But I could not sympathize. It doesn’t feel like I’m gloating or high on self-righteousness or denying this man’s humanity. I just can’t find the understanding within me to actually feel sorry for him.

He screwed up — badly. He made judgments about a very dangerous threat based on the shallowest grasp of the facts. A hoax? Really? How would such a hoax actually work? Through some giant conspiracy somehow kept secret from the rest of us? No, that is not how the world works. And for what purpose would this hoax be perpetrated? To diss Donald Trump? It’s almost too stupid to even say, much less actually believe and act on. If he had even tried for one moment to think independently about this very real danger, he would have realized that. But he didn’t because he left such thinking to others who couldn’t care less about his welfare or his loved ones’ Yes, it is his fault!

Despite his remorse, however, I’m not feeling sympathy. Anger is what I feel, anger at this bonehead and all the millions like him who smugly dismiss reality and callously ignore their duty to the rest of us. I have no patience for these fellow citizens of mine, even if they have confessed their sins and are doing penance for them. I am not impressed by their suffering.

I honestly hope that I will have room in me for that sympathy someday. But right now, it's just not there. It’s people like Tony Green — even now, in the depths of his sorrow — that are the problem. They were fine with all the lying, fine with their white supremacist fellow travelers, fine with the ugliness and dereliction and the consorting with our enemies. Their abuses have undermined democracy and given freedom a bad name.

Sorry, not sorry. Just angry.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon