The very simple question from the title has been bothering me for almost as long as I have been bothered by the coronavirus pandemic. We have had many sources of information thrust upon us. First, there was Bill Gates. Gates had pointed out several months ago in an essay he wrote for The Atlantic, a somewhat scholarly publication. The essay by Gates pointed to the mountains of data that has been collected by scientists and epidemiologists concerning the speed, ill effects, and environmental conditions that would favor an outbreak of a virus such as the coronavirus influenza that is now plaguing the world. Gates did not predict a pandemic, but he did point out that conditions may have configured and combined for a disease to strengthen and multiply. Gates is not only a very wealthy man, but he is also highly intelligent. His grasp of facts and rejection of alternate facts gives him the skills to sort out conclusions based upon evidence. Why isn’t this man our President? He would make a fine president if he so desired. Many others have also carefully and skillfully taken the pathway of evidence and presented similar truths. Unfortunately, however, there are some others who have ignored the truth and put forward alternative facts that seemingly contradict the evidential data. These charlatans over-run those who seek the truth with their incessant chatter and malarkey.
The erstwhile president of our country has made several pleas to the American nation on behalf of various remedies for the COVID-19 virus. Each of these has repeatedly led up blind alleys. Please Mr. President, Stop! Fund the research and development and make the efforts to rid the nation of this plague or admit your defeat and let the scientists complete the task. The death toll from this disease is overwhelming grim. I have had two of my sisters become statistics through Trump’s futile efforts. I hold this man in judgment for my becoming the last of my parents live offspring. It is a strange feeling.
Another, and perhaps, a more intriguing aspect of our current world, has been the increase in suicides across all strata of society. An estimated 35 percent of the American population are either seeing a therapist, life-coach, or counselor. And maybe, according to the therapy industry, another ten to fifteen percent are waiting for an appointment to see “someone.” It is probably safe to assume that major metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or any other moderately sized metro-area have clusters of professionals ready to talk to anyone who has the economic wherewithal to pay! There is good evidence that these folks, the talkers, would gladly pay the professionals to make house calls. On call or visiting therapists has a certain entrepreneurial charm about it. I would hope that the suicide numbers begin to abate. Never having been in therapy or even considered it for my well-being, I can only imagine what the process is like. Guantanamo, perhaps!
Blaming your Mom or Dad or aggressive siblings for your state of mind is an easy way out. I do not find searching for help to be demeaning or a joke. It may be because I consider myself to be well adjusted, optimistic, open-minded, and warm-hearted with self-respect. Seeing folks being beat down, depressed, or in a black hole of self pity may be a result of our dealing or not dealing with this pandemic. The “Black Death,” long before Freudian or Jungian analysis, left the population with only God to blame. We dare not utter that thought for fear of being labeled some kind of a fundamentalist or worse. When society opens up once again, therapists, life-coaches, and shrinks will reap a harvest never dreamed of. The world of analysis, self or other, and peopled by entrepreneurs will become the new technology panacea. Maybe even a video application by somebody named Deepak. To borrow from a true futurist, Karnak the Great, “Who Do You Trust?”
Our renewed interest in the process of analysis can be partly the result of our growing discomfort with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. We want this plague to be over or at least under more control. It is going to be with us, as any viral flu has been – perhaps severe or mild year to year until we develop a “herd immunity” or a vaccine. The government administration has not been able to prevent or eradicate the illness. The erstwhile political leadership has refused to respect the scientist and the various local leadership attempts to make society whole again. The president wants to get re-elected as being all things to all men and some women. He spends his time demeaning all who do not agree with his cock-eyed world view. His faithful continue to believe that he and he alone can rescue them out of their plight. I just honestly hope, that his attempt at one-man rule is denounced by those who he has tried to bury. A John Kelly or a James Mattis could silence him. If only the late Senator and war hero John McCain could return for just about a couple of hours, we would see the end of Trump and Trumpism!
In a final word, the normalcy that we long for will be quite different than I suspect most of us want. The structure of education will be built around the seeking out of knowledge as students in the pre-Renaissance era did: immersion. Technology will be the monasticism that will be open to all who want to enter. We will still train professionals – medicine, the law, the academy, the lab. But students will have to earn knowledge with their time, efforts and energy. Younger students will be guided by these professionals with their passions. There will be more tech jobs as technology expands horizons and opportunities. Our problems of homelessness and hunger will be solved through cooperative means. Our time will be the coin of the realm. Even at this early dawn, we see that rewards will be distributed differently, say through one’s contribution and sharing of benefits. If you chose to spend your time well, say by guiding children or comforting those who cannot gain comfort, your share spent will be rewarded well. The wealth of knowledge and storehouse of choices will not be hoarded. Our life-spans may extend but not by very much – a few years perhaps. But the pandemics will be more recognizable and controllable giving us richer lives. Shakespeare was correct, “if love and music be the fruit of life, play on.”
I am not a prophet or a card reader. I am a realist. This terrible time that we now find ourselves enmeshed in, will be end. Prepare for a long rebuilding of our lives. Surprisingly, it will be hard to complete and finish. There will be more Trumps – selfish tramps and con artists. We will recognize them quickly and deal with them. There may also be another Carter or John XXIIIs or perhaps a Mother Theresa or Dali Lama or Mandela, or Princess Di or Chief Joseph or M. L. King or any of the good and wise human beings that will show us a way forward.
Our days will be longer, our dark nights shorter. And our hopes and dreams will be nurtured and we will continue forward to the understanding and respect for others!