Day 5

Day 5 – Total confirmed cases in US: 14,250

a suitably ghostly morning on the Hudson River

Some of us are not coming back from this. I’m not talking about physical health, although some of us are not coming back that way either. Some of us are not coming back financially, even to the place we were a few weeks ago. Some will lose our jobs and a lifetime of savings for retirement. Some relationships will die, even as others find a new level of intimacy. Some people will die of relatively harmless conditions because routine medical care won’t be available.

Some of us are going to check out in other ways too. Once a routine gets disrupted, the rationale behind it will be re-examined and not all rationales will stand up to scrutiny. Some of us will never go back to a routine that perpetuated itself, sometimes for years, before the virus. Others will let go and drift away from society the way people do with drugs or grief. It will be as simple as a loss of faith.

Trying to see the forest through the trees

The US economy has been bouncing from one bubble to the next for decades, while the wages of working people have been stagnant or worse. The gig economy is being exposed for the sham it always was: adequate in the best of times and devoid of safety nets in the worst. Decades of vilifying and shrinking government have left an anemic and poorly managed system at the precise moment when it is most needed.

“I don’t take responsibility at all.” photo by Evan Vucci/AP

There is a popular misconception that, to quote John Kennedy:

In the Chinese language, the word crisis is composed of two characters,
one representing danger and the other, opportunity

The popularity of the misconception only goes to show how the idea resonates. We do tend to believe that there is opportunity in crisis. And not just in the way our Treasury Secretary considers this as “a great investment opportunity.” This crisis has already exposed a lot of weaknesses and misconceptions in our society. Only time will tell what we make of this generational opportunity to reboot our calcifying society. It might even provoke a new kind of revolution.


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