Monday, April 13, 2020

Distance Learning

Spain is lifting some of their restrictions on travel and reopening parts of their economy even as the pandemic still spreads in that country.  Right-wing whackos in Idaho are meeting in groups, ignoring the stay-at-home warnings in that state, claiming its just a left-wing conspiracy.  Trump and his minions are already chafing to get the country back open so that he can get out there and campaign for re-election.

But it’s not over by a long shot, and places like China where they thought the worst had passed are seeing a second wave of infections.

Human nature is such that if it’s not happening to us or those around us, it’s not happening.  If you’re not sick, no one is.  And if the authorities or institutions are taking precautions that inconvenience you, it’s just not fair.  So while we sit at home and figure out new ways to occupy ourselves, teach our children and do our jobs, it only hits home when we find out that our job is not coming back or a loved one or a friend somewhere has contracted the disease or worse, has died.

It’s ironic that one of the aspects of human nature is that we are quick to adopt a point of view based on an abstract idea — for example, same-sex marriage — and allow it to be exploited for political gain.  Hard-core conservatives won many elections in rural America by pointing at what was happening in a place like Massachusetts and warning their constituents that it could happen in their small town to the point that they would vote against their own interests to go along with them (“What’s The Matter with Kansas”).  The liberals are coming, they warned, and it worked.  But now we’re faced with a real threat, not some abstraction, and those same conservatives and their followers are ignoring or condemning the safeguards, claiming it’s all made up just to make Trump look bad.

No one really knows how this will end.  A vaccine is a year away, and mark my words, there will be a groundswell of lunatics who will campaign against it as more a danger than the disease itself.  (Darwin, do your stuff.)  But the longer human nature refuses to learn from what’s happened and is still happening somewhere else, the pandemic will continue, people will die, and even if we do eventually learn and adapt, the sad fact is that the first social gatherings we may be allowed to attend will be memorial services.