The pandemic is somewhat abated here, but in other places around the globe, it’s still raging. Americans tend to think of it as “over” because we’re so parochial. The rest of the world is out of sight and, so, out of mind for the majority of Americans. And no one else on the planet is more important than us.
I don’t agree with that stance, and there are a lot of other people who don’t. But we do oftentimes seem to be in the minority.
While looking for a discussion topic to write for work, I came across this acceptance speech by Ursula LeGuin for the 2014 National Book Award. She names the plagues of our times, long before the biological plague, COVID-19, appeared. And she calls on artists—particularly writers, since that’s her art—to redress the wrongs, to write of freedom and hope. In her words [time stamp 1:24–2:19],
I have loved Ursula LeGuin since I first read her Wizard of Earthsea trilogy when I was, I don’t remember how old. Somewhere in my early teens, I suspect. I think I’ve read everything she ever wrote since. If you haven’t read her yet, you’re missing out on a brilliant mind and impeccable writer. She is one of my heroes.
Omicron. Rogue variants. Potential World War III on the Russian-Ukrainian border. The mess we’ve left in Afghanistan, which is costing the lives of thousands of innocent people. And the foundational fear: the Earth is understandably trying to get rid of us with decimating storms, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, drought, dead bees, and plagues.
I “manage” all this stress and anxiety by ignoring it. Feeling it all, all the time, would crush me. So I pay no attention to it. I think it’s what most of us do. We’re all living like semi-zombies these days.
Sometimes, like today, I spring a leak and all the fear busts up to the surface. I feel very needy. Then I push it back down again and ignore it until the next leak.
I get some solace from my desktop window image. It’s from San Xavier del Bac, south of Tucson. I took the photo the last time we were able to go visit friends there, which was a couple of weeks before the plague shut everything down. Little did we know.
And it’s still a pandemic diary. I got so tired of writing about it that I took a couple months off. And just when you think it’s over, it comes back in new clothes. The Delta variant is proving a slippery monster. The CDC is now urging we get a “booster” shot to reduce the chances of another surge. Other experts say we shouldn’t do that because it could create vaccine-resistant variants.
And so many people in the world haven’t even gotten one shot yet, so can we justify giving ourselves a third? I guess if it really will help knock this damn thing out, then if we have the vaccines available here, which we do, we should use them. The U.S. is now donating millions of vaccines to countries in need, so there’s that.
There are still Americans who refuse to be vaccinated, mostly in the hard-right Trumpist areas. Those places are now facing hospitals at capacity and people dying like they did in the early days of the pandemic. It’s impossible for me to look upon the “anti-vaxxers” (and “anti-maskers”, because they’re both) with compassion—I tried to imagine sitting in a circle and praying with them, but I couldn’t even picture doing it. They are sentencing others, if not themselves, to death because they believe wearing a mask and getting vaccinated is somehow an abrogation of their rights. And their personal “freedom” is more important than other people’s lives. I can’t pray for them. God will have to take care of that for me.
Canada finally opened their border with the U.S. this month, so we made immediate plans to go to Montreal for the (postponed) jazz festival in September. As of today, we can still go. Hopefully that won’t change in the next 3 weeks.