Strange times we’re living in. Although I must say, if you’ve read all of my previous post, you know I predicted years ago that the attitudes we’ve been expressing towards each other and the divisiveness of our rhetoric would inevitably result in this kind of outcome. However, things are depressing enough without me rehashing old apocalyptic prognostications (I invite anyone interested to go back and read some of my previous posts). Even us prognosticators can’t predict how a human being actually feels when the apocalypse does actually arrive. Observing similar catastrophes from afar can’t covey the actual sensations that course through your body when it happens to you. I have been alone, in complete isolation from other human beings, except for social media, TV and phone calls, for 72 hours straight. Now I understand why many consider solitary confinement cruel and unusual punishment. After 36 hours, time gets distorted. Your body is never sure if it’s day or night. You wake up in the middle of the night full of energy followed by hardly being able to keep your eyes open by the middle of the day. You become aware of the sounds inside your body and your head to the point where those faint little noises become deafening. After three days, I just ran outside and jogged two miles before I even broke a sweat (Remember my story about the lemmings?). Of course I’m sure the experience is different for everyone, but imagine what it must be like to be in real solitary confinement with no human contact, electronic or otherwise?
On the lighter side, who could have predicted the toilet paper thing? I swear I have scoured the Internet and I have yet to find a sociologist or behavioral scientist or any of the experts in human behavior who saw that coming. It’s amazing! I’m told by told by someone who is a lot more abreast of pop culture than I that the TV show, The Walking Dead, is responsible because a common theme of this tale of zombie apocalypse is that the survivors never have enough toilet paper. It must have been impressive to create the kind of run on toilet paper we have seen in this pandemic. Today I took advantage of my over 65 year-old status to shop for a few sundries at the Whole Foods senior shopping hour between 7 and 8 AM. I felt like I had struck gold when I was able to buy a pack of 12 rolls of toilet paper. I got to the store at about ten minutes to eight and there was a line of under-65s waiting to get in. I finished my shopping by ten after eight. I happened to glance down the aisle where the toilet paper was shelved (which was so full that some of the boxes of toilet paper were stacked on the floor in front of the shelves when I came in) on my way out and it was completely empty. The entire inventory had sold out in ten minutes. As I walked from the supermarket door to my car, I had the thought that maybe I should arm myself the next time I go shopping. Who knows? Maybe when the real apocalypse comes, the uses of toilet paper and paper money in society will be completely reversed!
Finally, in all seriousness, we would all do well to consider that in a dictatorship, the kind of lifestyle changes we are experiencing now become common place for many reasons besides health. In fact, one of the reasons that China was so effective in stemming the tide of the disease was their ability to impose forced social distancing on its population unlike the voluntary edicts of free societies. While that’s great for disease control purposes, it’s not so great when imposed for political purposes and for the purpose of satisfying the whims and fancies of the dictator. Perhaps the silver lining of this crisis is that all Americans will have time to think about the real costs of dividing ourselves based on the superficial differences of race, skin color and religion. I have said the dangerous climate we have created where truth has been almost completely devalued can have catastrophic consequences. If you believe the things Mr. Trump is saying of late, you would think that he has been completely committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19 from the very beginning. Yet I distinctly remember watching him on TV at one of his rallies as early as November of last year, implying that the “fake news media”, (to which he pointed, invoking the obligatory boos and jeers from his followers), was exaggerating the impact of the disease to enhance the chances of the Democrats winning the 2020 elections. By the way, in case you didn’t know, apparently, the official White House definition of fake news is anything that is in the least bit critical of Donald Trump. As a consequence, his fanatical obsession that all White House officials and executive branch controlled institutions be loyal and show allegiance to him alone, even at the expense of the public welfare, has led to many of the most competent personnel of the institutions created to protect us and minimize the impact of the kind of catastrophe we are experiencing have been purged from or quit those institutions in favor of mostly incompetent cronies of Mr. Trump and his Republican Party. The Corona Virus we are battling is a relatively mild pathogen. Ask yourself if you feel the government as it stands now, given the priorities of Trump and his Republican controlled senate, is composed of the right people to give you the honest, accurate information you would need to survive or prevent a more desperate situation than we have now? So far we’ve gotten away with the deconstruction of the institutions we depend on to safeguard our health, the environment and the education of our children. But the time to rebuild them back into what they must be in order to effectively carry out their mission is running out.