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What to do when the villain is unknown and unseen? I’m reminded of Blake’s invisible worm that flies in the night with its dark secret love that my life destroys. (“Sick Rose,” a decent poem; I wonder do students still read Blake or has education progressed to something else?”
Who to blame for the unforeseen is easier and more in keeping with human traits. Because it surely was not our fault we assign blame to others. What a relief!
My mother had an ever faithful tactic to explain things going awry: “I blame the parents.” I winced every time she said it, as you likely do as well, and rightly so.
Blaming parents is judgmental and old fashioned, painfully so. Our reasoning selves know better than judge one based on another. This doesn’t mean we will be reasoning as much as it means we’ll spot (a more self-satisfying habit) the failing in others. I do so by getting irked at many come-late-to-the-party who now know it all.
Can you name the political, cultural, entertainment, social, etc. leaders who took an epic stand on pandemic preparation? We had ample tax and tuition proposals, multiple strategies for securing and opening borders, many plans for making wealth and creating income justice. Exactly who on any local, state, or national level said let’s store a surplus of viral protective gear and tools for infection treatment? Does the name of any leader come to mind?
I think of none. This is understandable, however, as we were occupied with gender pronouns and unconscious racism in shampoo. We were busy with those important matters and perhaps should be happy virus doesn’t select by color or ethnicity. Corona is bias free, hooray! Justice at last!
To be fair, from time to time a voice (Bill Gates among them) raised pandemic concerns. They were ignored, and to some extent labeled hostiles to globalist ideals. Why fret over disease when we were all one people in trust, love, and peace? Turns out love, trust, and peace isn’t much strategy for dealing with disease. Nor was it ever.
Pause with me a moment to consider why our species separated into language, color, and culture groups? Why weren’t we a mono-culture all along? I suspect separation had survival advantages. Within closed company people were relatively safe. They knew this was so on the animal level all beings share as a “sense.”
Long before any bacteria or virus was known people knew certain wells were bad. (Tea, beer and wine substituted for foul water.) They knew ports where visitors arrived from afar were often the starting places for new plagues. Staying safe was partly a result of keeping within your own group. Mingling outside held risks people recognized on a level simple as basic reproduction.
Successful societies understood the worth of fidelity and the danger of promiscuity. Selling one’s body was a short career usually leading to unmentionable ills. The “clean” living were spared that so long, that is, as they stayed within set limits. Anyone who did not recognize the jet age, speedy global trade, and absence of border controls held serious risk was being willfully deluded either for the sake of greed or philosophy.
For the profiteer and the dreamer the result is the same, plus one gets to blame the other as a feel-good culpability escape. When reality comes knocking it bangs the door hard. It does not recognize ideals, status, dreams, bottom lines, or stores of gold. As an “it” virus is gender free and fully adaptable as circumstance permits. Disease can’t be convinced, persuaded, or brought to see reason. It had only to await its opportunity to begin its party in the ballrooms, stadiums, and temples built seemingly to welcome it to our eager arms.
Is there blame to share round? There is if you’re like my mother ready to point an accusing finger at a handy authority figure. To our better reasoning blaming the parents sounds awful. We dislike the idea of holding one person accountable for the acts of others (though in some groups this is a highly popular and successful strategy). Most of us rightly balk at making you pay for what your brother or other kin did.
Another side, however, to mother’s blame approach was its sign of person who took their own parental responsibility seriously, perhaps too much so. But where precisely is the line between being too serious and too lax a parent? Is the line between leniency and discipline clear cut and is it the same for all individuals in differing circumstances? Much of the time it’s probably not at all definite or clear. People muddle along making their way forward with the complexities of personal and social interactions and responsibilities.
Holding others responsible for things outside our (or possible much of any) control is a human habit of long standing. We attack what’s seen as “outside”. It’s what we do. In that the person who thinks themselves open-minded and peaceful is no different than a defender of tribe. Godly and ungodly share a desire to attack things and people they see as contrary to their sphere. I used to think my mother’s blame tactic extreme and rare. Well, it certainly isn’t rare.
I recently heard a person so convinced Trump was at fault they thought the death of a million was a price worth paying if it got rid of the demon Trump. I’m glad of one thing, not having to live with a feeling like that inside me.
Blaming any city, state, or national leader is the same authority accountability my mother used pointing the finger at other parents. Welcome to my mother’s world where parental figures are everywhere to be found.
On a differing tone the total success of North Korea combatting the pandemic must be noted. Elsewhere in the real world viruses don’t recognize politics. It takes only communist socialism to fix that. The decree is out and must be obeyed. No corona in North Korea. Other nations possibly deal with disease by decree as well. Time will tell.