The United States is in distress, the world order disintegrated, and — of course — people are dying. By the time this hell-storm subsides, hundreds of thousands of people will. It is cruel, unfair, and a tragic atrocity on an incalculable scale.
When I scroll through my Facebook and Instagram timelines, I see people shaming other people for ignoring social distancing protocol. While we should all practice social distancing at this time, the shaming is counterproductive. It sows division. Division is our enemy, and we shall not make enemies of those who share in our struggle for life and livelihood.
What we have, here, now, is a genuine existential crisis. A pandemic, preventable in nearly every way, is unleashing holy hell around the world — all because a virus jumped ship from a bat to a hungry fella in China. It’s damn near the actual butterfly effect, but with a bat, and an animal market.
Do you see how fragile civilization itself is? Perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves what a civilization is, and should be.
Along with — and worse than — several other countries around the world, the United States has resorted to rationing ventilators. We’re valuing life based on perceived ROI, instead of valuing life as life itself.
Meanwhile, the labor class sits, watches, weeps and wastes away. We’re home-schooling our kids. We’ve closed our businesses. We’ve slashed our prices. We’ve foregone our paychecks.
No one’s earning income. No one’s spending money. No one’s traveling. No one’s allowed in the public sphere. We’ve been walled off from each other. What we are seeing are the early stages of full-scale civilization collapse.
Civilization is a thin veneer. It’s not the house that holds us all, it’s the coat of paint on the house that attracts us inside.
A civilization, ideally, is something that contains us — without quarantine — and provides for the public good: Health, wisdom, joy, purpose, prosperity, love, belonging, communion, freedom, justice.
In a true civilization — the kind that tames and teaches us — humans pool resources and share them expeditiously and efficiently, allowing for all of us to flourish, and to free ourselves from the ruthless, rugged, barbaric survivalism that rings the bell of an “uncivilized” populace.
Ask yourselves: are we civilized now? Arguing and going stir-crazy as we obsessively wash our hands and sit for weeks — nay, months — on end, imprisoned in our dwellings? Many of us, unable to work, unable to hold or even see each other, unable to move without restriction?
Many of us will lose our jobs, our savings, our livelihoods, and/or our lives. Many of us are being punished for preventable crimes committed behind the curtain by the capital class. Our mental, physical and public health are declining, without appropriate or appropriately scaled outlets for care, cure or treatment.
A virus that could’ve been contained, globally, was not. Instead it was demonized, dismissed, “other”d, minimized and allowed to run roughshod over the Grand Human Experiment, 2020, as the moneyed, paranoid and pathologically self-interested were allowed to hedge, prepare, hunker down and isolate.
All the while — leading up to, and during — we’ve been fed disinformation, misinformation, bad programming, empty intellectual calories, propaganda and the balm of infinite Netflix.
As individualist and exceptionalist Americans, in particular, we’ve been trained to prioritize self-interest, to fear, to hate, and to commit violence. We’ve never been allowed to grow beyond reflexive bullies who demonize, other, minimize and run roughshod over other grand humans, as the moneyed interests hedged, prepared, hunkered and isolated — not before they were mostly finished raping, pillaging, plundering and indiscriminately executing those they deemed unworthy of their compassion.
Our lives are immaterial, our essences irredeemable, our very existence an inconvenience at best and an loathed sunk-cost at worst. Death and disease are good for business. The mega-wealthy have short-sold our lives.
Now is not the time to punch down on the bullshit hierarchy of personhood.
Now is not the time to push your agenda.
Now is not the time for shaming.
Now is not the time minimization.
Now is not the time for “business as usual.”
Now is not the time to “turn the economy back on.”
Now is not the time to “thin the herd.”
Now is not the time to turn against each other. The rest of us, the overwhelming majority of us, must soldier on, lock arm-in-socially-distant arm and realize we’re being systematically annihilated, indiscriminately and intentionally so.
As you sit, quarantined, obsessively Lysoling the surfaces of your unaffordable shelters, look around you. We are all that we have left.
Now, we need to unite. Not tomorrow, not when this is over, not when COVID-19 is finished tallying its breathtakingly alarming tolls of dead, irreversibly sick or disabled. Now. If we can not all unite for the good of us all, than we shall be united in our shared perish and poverty.
Even though we must be physically apart, we must all allow ourselves to come communally together, as a great harmonious human fabric that — despite myriad fractures and fissures over our existence — has remarkably survived and occasionally flourished for tens of thousands of years.
We’ve never quite been decently civilized yet — Western Europe, Canada, New Zealand and others are close — but now is as good of a time as any to start. It’s the best time to start. It may be our last time to start.
It is time to understand that your survival is inextricable from mine. It is time to say in one voice we will not be held hostage, that we will not go quietly, that we will not allow our fellow space-rock inhabitants to perish because the “labor” class is scared of “the flu.”
A new republic is possible. A new planet is possible. A new civilization is possible. In times like these, we see it.
We see the good in each other, and the need for each other — every day, in every way, from your neighbor, to the truck driver, to the local grocery store clerk. There’s good all around us. There’s good within all of us.
Everyone has always been connected. Now, everything is illuminated. Your life has value. Your life has meaning.
We can do this. But we can’t do it alone. We need to do it together, before we are executed or abandoned for having the nerve to want to breathe — in safety, in solidarity, in dignity, and freely.
The billionaires are holding civilization for ransom. We will not pay with our lives.