A few thoughts generated by these coronaviral times:
Perhaps in a year, we’ll have an effective vaccine against COVID-19. But developing a vaccine against stupidity will remain elusive.
Perhaps we should redefine COVID-19 as a terrorist outfit, thereby unleashing unlimited funding from Congress to combat it.
Trump and Biden are literally tired old men, not in age alone, but more importantly in how they view the world. There’s nothing fresh or original about them.
People are stunned by this pandemic and the changes driven by it. We’ve been knocked out of our routines and perhaps our complacency. At least some of us are now open to new ideas. Which is precisely why our government is rushing in with old ideas, doubling down on trickle down, telling us to remain in place, not only physically, which is necessary, but mentally. Look at the parade of old ideas trumpeted by the president. And for that matter Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic establishment. Trump and Biden are literally tired old men, not in age alone, but more importantly in how they view the world. There’s nothing fresh or original about them. Nothing. Whereas Bernie Sanders is fighting for health care for all, better pay for workers, and a system that puts people first instead of profits.
The courage and selflessness of doctors, nurses, first responders, and indeed all those who are risking exposure to the virus to help others has truly been inspirational. We’re hearing a lot from the media about our doctors, nurses, etc. being “heroes,” which is encouraging. Far too often in the U.S., and for too long, the concept of “hero” was linked to military service, with all troops being celebrated as “hometown heroes.” Athletes, too, were called heroes for hitting homeruns or throwing touchdowns. Our coronaviral moment is reminding us about the true nature of heroes. As I wrote a decade ago:
Here, then, is what I mean by “hero”: someone who behaves selflessly, usually at considerable personal risk and sacrifice, to comfort or empower others and to make the world a better place. Heroes, of course, come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and colors, most of them looking nothing like John Wayne or John Rambo or GI Joe (or Jane).
“Hero,” sadly, is now used far too cavalierly. Sportscasters, for example, routinely refer to highly paid jocks who hit walk-off home runs or score game-winning touchdowns as heroes. Even though I come from a family of firefighters (and one police officer), the most heroic person I’ve ever known was neither a firefighter nor a cop nor a jock: She was my mother, a homemaker who raised five kids and endured without complaint the ravages of cancer in the 1970s, with its then crude chemotherapy regimen, its painful cobalt treatments, the collateral damage of loss of hair, vitality, and lucidity. In refusing to rail against her fate or to take her pain out on others, she set an example of selfless courage and heroism I’ll never forget.
Perhaps it takes a crisis like this for us to recognize the “ordinary” heroes among us, the ones who aren’t “top guns” flying warplanes, the ones who aren’t throwing footballs for multi-million-dollar salaries.
Remember when Trump said: “I could stand In the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters”? This moment is proving him right. He has colossally mismanaged this crisis, yet his followers still place their faith in him. For his followers, Trump is the ultimate Teflon president. Nothing sticks to him. Eat your heart out, Ronald Reagan!
Finally, as a pandemic rages, the Trump administration is warning of a possible sneak attack by Iran even as it deploys ships and air assets in the drug war, specifically against Venezuela. Echoing the words of Mehdi Hasan, a journalist at The Intercept, what kind of maniac does this? But maybe it’s not mania; after all, Iran and Venezuela have something in common: huge reserves of oil, and regimes that resist the USA. Once again, old thinking prevails, old scores must be settled, even as a new world order takes shape because of this pandemic.
Of course, Trump has never put America first. He’s always put himself first. He’s given himself an A+ and a 10 out of 10 for his leadership in facing this crisis. Sad to say, his followers believe him. Remember when I said there’s no vaccine for stupidity?
William J. Astore