Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Difference a Few Weeks Make

Never in all my years on this planet, have I experienced such drastic change as we have in the past month. I look back at the time when I wrote my two last posts, just about three weeks ago, with a certain blissful nostalgia. Yet how could I have been so wrong and naive?

The wrong part came in the first post where I wrote that the president's "perfect phone call" with Vladimir Zelensky, while leading to his impeachment, also...
...all but killed Joe Biden's life-long dream of being the principal occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Thank goodness I added the "all but" because as of today. Biden is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party in the upcoming election. What I didn't see coming was the effect Biden's landslide victory over Bernie Sanders in the South Carolina primary would have in subsequent states. Up to that point, the primaries had been held in non-diverse states with largely white populations, with the exception of Nevada which has a significant Latinx presence. Sanders won all but one of those states with Biden coming in a distant third or fourth. It appeared that Sanders' momentum could very well carry him on to becoming the party's standard bearer, with the only real challenges coming from Pete Butigieg or possibly Mike Bloomberg. It seemed as if the only person in the world who believed Biden had a chance was Biden himself, who alone understood the critical importance of the African American vote, which carried him over the top in South Carolina, all of the southern states that have held primaries, and Illinois and Michigan. Sanders won the biggest state of them all, California, but as of this moment, it's Biden's contest to lose.

However as we've seen in the past month, who knows what the future brings?

Needless to say, the election is peanuts compared to the global crisis of COVID-19 and Coronavirus .

In my final post of last month, while I recognized the seriousness of the virus, I was still in denial about the impact it would have on the world. After all, we've been through countless epidemics,  SARS in 2003, H1N1 in 2009, and Ebola from 2014 to 2016, just to name a few. Yes thousands of people perished all over the world from those deadly viruses, but those of us who didn't, the vast majority of people on the planet, got through those crisis without experiencing much disruption of our lives.

Previously I thought about what we are about to face over the next several months as a being terrible inconvenience. I became irritated when I heard folks likening this experience to the Depression and WWII. That is until I heard my elders, people who actually lived though the Great Depression and the great war, make that very comparison.

The truth is, none of us knows what this virus may bring nor how many of our loved ones, or even ourselves will survive. Our very survival depends on tremendous sacrifice from all of us, giving up many of the things that back in those wonderful days of the first two months of 2020, we took for granted.

The Governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, declared that his state, the state in which I live, will be on shut down until further notice. Only people whose jobs are deemed essential to maintain health, safety, and provide the basic necessities for living, will be allowed to go to work. People have been instructed in no uncertain terms that with only very limited exceptions, we are to stay at home . He told the people of his state that he was in the very unenviable position of having to choose between "people's lives, and people's livelihoods."

It was an ominous message, but one that needed to be heard, and a truly courageous move on his part.

Many people will die as a result of this virus. Those of us who survive will suffer hardships, some of them terrible. While (the collective) we will certainly survive this in the long run, our immediate future is very cloudy indeed.

The American Vice President made a particularly un-helpful comment the other day. He said that during this time of crisis we should all spend more time on our knees rather than on social media. Including the inevitable vulgar responses that comment will inspire, the truth is that while prayer may be a comfort to many, we need social media now more than ever. As we're holed up in our homes trying our best to not kill our immediate loved ones, (don't lie, you all know that thought will cross all your head sometime in the coming weeks and months), social media will enable us to reach out to our loved ones afar, our friends, colleagues, acquaintances and perfect strangers all over the world, all of whom will let us know we're not alone in our time of trial.

Despite the cliche, we're all in this together, and seeing folks in at least five continents outside of our own experiencing what we are, that is fighting a common enemy, may, just may help to in the long run help make the world a smaller place and bring us all a little closer together.

One can only hope in silver linings.

Much love from Chicago. Stay safe and well.

No comments: