This Too Shall Pass… The Human Race Shall Overcome the Vi-race COVID-19!

Filed under: Opinion & Analysis |

Author’s Note: Over the past week, family and friends who have heard of the “state of emergency” in California have been calling to ask how we are doing battling COVID-19. There is no “state of emergency” in California, only an order by the governor to stay home so we minimize the chances of spreading the virus. I cannot report firsthand much on how things are going in California except to say schools, universities, sit-down restaurants, malls, retail stores and other establishments have closed. For those who have asked me to write a message in my usual Monday commentary, I can only say this: The dark cloud of coronavirus will soon lift having delivered a dire warning. COVID-19 is a wake call. If we ignore the call, the prophesy in that old Negro spiritual shall gain new meaning: “God gave Noah a rainbow sign. No more rain, viruses next time.”

My deepest concern is will the human race be ready for the Vi-race next me?

Self-quarantine, self-isolation, shelter in place in California

This past Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation ordering 40 million Californians to stay put and at home as part of the effort to disrupt and slow down the spread of the coronavirus disease,  a/k/a SARS-CoV-2, Coronavirus Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Disease, COVID-19.

Life as we know it has come to a screeching halt in California and from what I hear in most of the Western world.

Gov. Newsom’s order directs workers in energy, food, agriculture and financial services to “their work” but everyone else, “Stay home!”

The order specifically provided “those 65 years and older, and those with underlying health issues, are advised to self-quarantine, self-isolate, or otherwise remain in their homes to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.”

It is social distancing enforced by law.

Naturally, as a perennial 29-year-older, I was not particularly concerned about the “65 years and older” age limit warning, but out of an abundance of caution I decided to go along.

So, here we are in “Camp California”.

Hiding from mean ole Corona V.

There is just no place to run and hide from Corona V, s/he who is invisible and must be feared.

“V” stands for Vengeance. ReVenge of the viruses. Victory of the viruses?

Bill Gates warned us about the revenge of the V Army in 2015.

We blew him off. “Certainly, he meant circuses not viruses?”, we joked.

Gates rhetorically asked, “The next outbreak? We’re not ready. The failure to prepare could allow the next epidemic to be dramatically more devastating than Ebola.”

“Prophet” Gates’ message was clear: Fear not nuclear annihilation. Fear annihilation by invisible cell-sucking viruses.

We did not listen.

Many other experts have been warning of a coming pandemic for decades. Nobody believed them. “How could an invisible virus bring human civilization to its knees? Impossible!”

Now, we are paying dearly for turning a deaf ear to the ominous warnings of the coming of the first (certainly not the last) 21st century plague in blood, sweat and tears.

So, here I am in self-quarantined in Camp California.

Ruminating philosophically.

Singing the blues.

Listening to the wisdom of good ole Bob Dylan’s 1964 song, “The Times They are A changing.

Come gather ’round people/ Wherever you are
And admit that the waters/ Around you have grown
And accept it that soon/ You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’/ Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen/ Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway/ Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt/ Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’/ It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn/ The curse it is cast
The slow one now/ Will later be fast
As the present now/ Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’/ And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Yes, indeed. he times they are a-changin’. Life as we know it has changed forever as we now know we are stalked by an army of invisible viruses.

It is time to admit coronavirus has grown.

We better start swimming towards a vaccine or cure, or we’ll sink like a stone.

Trump, senators and congressmen, take heed the curse it is cast. The order – life as we know it — is rapidly fadin’ for the times they are a-changin’.

What is there to do in self-quarantine in Camp California?

For me, two things: Reflect on the human condition and destiny and/or sing the blues.

So, here I am sitting and reflecting on the philosophical issues COVID-19 has raised in my mind and how this invisible enemy has disrupted the lives of billions of people in the world.

My reflection is aided by memes and jokes, funny and tasteless ones, sent to me electronically (I keep strict social distancing) by friends and colleagues to lift my spirits.

One of the biggest philosophical questions I could not figure out was this: “Why is there a run on toilet paper in America and who the hell is hoarding them?”

I quickly found out. “You know who buys up all the toilet paper and hoards them? Assholes.”

But what can I do personally to deal with COVID-19 in self-quarantine?

There was a ready answer for that too. “You know what they say: feed a cold, starve a fever, drink a corona for Coronavirus.”

But there are “so many coronavirus jokes out there, it’s a pun-demic.”

When not reflecting on the philosophical issues raised by COVID-19, I just sing the California Blues on my acoustic guitar.

I love that great B.B. King song, “Why I sing the blues”.

Everybody wants to know/ Why I sing the blues
Yes, I say everybody wanna know/ Why I sing the blues
Well, I’ve been around a long time/ I really have paid my dues…

Well, you don’t have to ask me. I will tell you why I am singing the blues in Camp California. Here are the lyrics to my song:

Do you wanna know why I sing the blues?
I am told to practice “social distancing”
Don’t touch no one with a ten-foot pole
If someone sneezes, run like hell and show them your sole.

That’s why I am singing the blues in Camp California.

Schools, malls, restaurants and gyms are closed
Even the churches, mosques and temples have shut their doors
Telling their people to pray at home
Good Lord Almighty, will you save us all?

That’s why I am singing the blues in Camp California.

The 405 is empty and the 10 looks no better
Give me back the gridlock so I can see somebody
Where have all the Angelinos gone?
Where have all the Angelinos gone?

That’s why I am singing the blues.

The homeless zombie the streets and got nothing to eat
Maybe I will drop them a few boxes of pizza
To ease my conscience
Or should I ignore them to keep my social distance.

That’s why I am singing the blues in Camp California.

The experts say forget a recession, we’re headed for a depression
A million Americans have lost their jobs
Small businesses are ready to fold
And Trump says, “Everything is under control!”

That’s why I am singing the blues in Camp California.

Doctors and nurses their lives are out on the line
Our senators are insider trading making millions
They say it is a coincidence
I say it’s profiteering plain and simple.

That’s why I am singing the blues in Camp California.

But whenever Donald Trump’s opens his mouth, I slip sliding away into the deep end of depression.

Trump tells me and 300 million plus Americans, “Forget about it. It ain’t nothing. It’s just liked the sniffles. You’ll get over it!”

Trump thinks coronavirus is the flu. He said, “Does anybody die of the flu?’ I didn’t know people died from the flu.”

Trump talks about the Chinese virus. He says “it is all under control”.

As of this writing, there are 381, 649 reported coronavirus infections and 16, 558 deaths globally since the first case was reported in China on November 17, 2019.

As Trump dithers and blathers about a coronavirus is under control, as of this writing we have 43,734 infected persons and 553 deaths in America!

In just two weeks, we have over 11 percent of the global infection rate and all indications are it is going to get much worse as hospital are expected to reach theri breaking point in the next week or so.

South Korea with a population of 50 million seems to be on the verge of victory in slowing down the spread of the virus. As of March 17, South Korea reported  only 74 new cases compared to 909 at its peak on 29 February.

What is the South Koreans doing right that we are not doing in the U.S.?

Trump wants to include coronavirus into his reelection playbook as a polarizing issue.

He wants to give coronavirus a nationality, a flag, an ideology and political party affiliation.

But there is no republican, democrat, red state or blue state coronavirus.

There is only the United Armies of Viruses (UAVs).

These invisible enemies do not invade with a flag, a Chinese, Italian, French or American flag.

Asked if he should take responsibility for the failure to disseminate larger quantities of coronavirus tests,  Trump said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

In sober reflection I reach out for the wisdom of Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does” and is.

People who say stupid things follow up by doing stupid stuff.

Every day, Donald Trump concocts a deadly brew of half-truths and outright lies in a cauldron of arrogance and ignorance.

He makes nonsensical statements which prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he simply does not have the intellectual candlepower and leadership skills to be the Commander-in-Chief in the War against Invisible Army of Corona V. (Not to be confused with his undisputed leadership of the other Invisible Army of the Knights of… ).

On the wings of Donald Trump’s thoughtless and dumbfounding words, Corona V spreads across the “Home of the Free and Land of the Brave”.

We need a Virusbuster president just like the Ghostbusters. “If there’s something strange in your neighborhood/Who you gonna call? (ghostbusters). If there’s something weird/ And it don’t look good/Who you gonna call? (ghostbusters).

If there is something strange called Coronoa V prowling your neighborhood, who you gonna call?

Not Donald Trump, for sho!

So, here I am in Camp California drowning in an ocean of Donald Trump “stupidioms” (I just coined that word to describe Donald Trump’s COVID-19 idiotic idioms):

“This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” January 22, 2020.

“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” January 30, 2020.

“We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five — and those people are all recuperating successfully. But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for us … that I can assure you.”  February 10, 2020.

“Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape though. We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now.” February 14, 2020.

“There’s a theory that, in April, when it gets warm — historically, that has been able to kill the virus.  So, we don’t know yet; we’re not sure yet. But that’s around the corner.” February 23, 2020.

“We have it very much under control in this country.” February 24, 2020.

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” February 26, 2020.

“So, we’re at the low level. As they get better, we take them off the list, so that we’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So, we’ve had very good luck.” February 26, 2020.

“And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” February 26, 2020.

“I think every aspect of our society should be prepared. I don’t think it’s going to come to that, especially with the fact that we’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down, not up.” February 26, 2020. February 27, 2020.

“It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” — Trump at a White House meeting with African American leaders. February 26, 2020.

“And I’ve gotten to know these professionals. They’re incredible. And everything is under control. I mean, they’re very, very cool. They’ve done it, and they’ve done it well. Everything is really under control.”  March 4, 2020.

“[W]e have a very small number of people in this country [infected]. We have a big country. The biggest impact we had was when we took the 40-plus people [from a cruise ship]. … We brought them back. We immediately quarantined them. But you add that to the numbers. But if you don’t add that to the numbers, we’re talking about very small numbers in the United States.” March 4, 2020.

“Well, I think the 3.4% [dead patients worldwide] is really a false number.” March 7, 2020.

“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!” March 9, 2020.

March 10: “And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”  March 10, 2020.

The philosophical silver lining in COVID 19: My answer to President Ronald Reagan’s timeless question “What could be more alien to the universal aspiration of our people than war and the threat of war?”

Republicans used to have leaders who had vision and a mission. I did not always agree with their vision and mission. But I give credit where it is due.

In 1987, Ronald Reagan stood up and demanded, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

He was talking about the wall that had separated West and East Berlin since 1961.

I don’t remember much about Reaganomics, Reagan’s Republican Revolution and Reagan’s Star Wars weapons systems.

But I remember the walls that came tumbling down not only in Berlin but throughout the communist world.

But I also remember Reagan’s penetrating observation and question in his 1987 U.N. speech:

In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet I ask, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspiration of our people than war and the threat of war?

Now, I am ready to answer Reagan’s question and Trump’s too.

The threat to the universal aspiration of our people today is not the illegal alien, the alien with a cone head and oblong eyes, an alien species with plasma guns, unearthly demons, Klingons and Megatrons.

What could be more alien to the universal aspiration of our people than nuclear war and the threat of nuclear war are coronavirus and all the other invisible armies of viruses silently and relentlessly stalking the human race.

These virus armies know no geographical boundaries.

In fact, they will not only bust geographic boundaries but cell membranes, the cell walls and attack each person silently and relentlessly.

They do not care about race, gender, religion, language or age.

They don’t choose between rich and poor, strong and weak.

Their regime is absolutely democratic. “One virus, one (wo)man.”

Their motto: “With malice towards all humans and charity to none.”

They would just as soon take out presidents, kings, queens, billionares and millionaires as they would the homeless and penniless.

They do not discriminate. They are the great equalizers.

So, it is US humans against THEM viruses.

Donald Trump says he has declared a war on Corona V.

No, Corona V has declared war on us, on all humanity.

We are now in a war between humans and viruses.

But we humans are unprepared for the Virus Wars. We prefer to fight the windmills of nuclear war.

Our ignorant and arrogant leaders would rather spend hundreds of billions preparing for a nuclear war when an invisible army of viruses is slipping between the gates and ravaging us in our homes, schools, places of work, worship and entertainment.

Humanity today sails on a ship of fools floating on an ocean of viruses.

So, what do we do?

Is the end of times near? Is it Apocalypse Now?

Who are we as humans in the war against viruses?

Will our ignorance and arrogance protect us from the invisible virus army invading our cells?

Let me wax poetic and answer these questions in the words of T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men”.

We are the hollow men/ We are the stuffed men
Leaning together/Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when/ We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless

The eyes are not here/There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars/In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms…

This is the way the world ends/ This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper.

If we do not heed the lessons of the current COVID-19 invasion, the world will not end with a nuclear bang but a whimper in hospital beds, in clinics, at home and in the streets.

So far, COVID-19 is winning.

S/he is winning because s/he has other deadly allies that sit not inside the cells of humans but in the hearts of minds of men and women. These allies go by the names Fear, Despair, Ignorance and Arrogance.

Trump said Corona virus is the liberals’ “new hoax”.

Such a deadly mix of ignorance and arrogance spewing out of a man’s mouth could contribute to the deaths of tens of thousands who follow his thoughtless words!

There is a better way.

We can defeat coronavirus and the invisible massing armies of viruses on the invisible horizon.

But we too must amass as ONE HUMAN FAMILY and fight the armies of viruses in the hospitals, in the places of worship, in schools and universities, in restaurants and bars, on the football fields and basketball courts, on land, in the air and at sea.

Our motto: We must hang together and fight as one human family or the virus armies will hang us each separately.

Paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King’s admonition for our time:

We must learn to live together, work together and fight together against COVID-19 not only as brothers and sisters but as members of one human family or perish together as passengers on a capsizing ship of fools on an ocean of viruses.

Ruminations in self-quarantine to be continued

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