You know things have gotten serious when they close Aspen, Vail, and the other ski resorts where the one-percenters go to play, and that’s just what happened this past weekend here in Colorado. It apparently dawned on our government that these are very efficient distribution centers for a communicable disease.
People fly in, do their turns on the slopes, and then get back in their airplanes to sail off to somewhere else taking their wrinkled ski costumes memories and newly-acquired microbes with them. All over the world.
Folks in Denver, which is the largest village in our beautiful state, are wondering what they are supposed to do with these children of theirs who can’t be sent off to school any longer. Not only have they lost their 9:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. babysitter, but there’s no easy backup place to send them, what with all the closures of public spaces.
They are facing having to deal with their progeny 24/7, and that can be daunting indeed. A citywide overwhelming of mental health professionals is anticipated.
Somewhere along the way I began to see that each painful experience in my life was not without some eventual benefit to me. Much was of the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” variety. I have been known to bore others with the remark that “I learned so much because of what happened, but it was tuition that I would not have paid.”
What we are being given today is an invaluable opportunity to learn deeply about so many things. Things like interdependence, cooperation, human fragility, the value of science and factual knowledge in general. To bring our innate courage and understanding to the recognition that being a human on this planet is always, every day, a hazardous enterprise. That everything works better when we have something or someone to lean on if and when we are just plain worn out.
The only thing different about the coronavirus threat as opposed to that posed by the pathogens that we are surrounded by every single day is its scope. It is new, it is dramatic (and in many respects America is a nation of drama queens), but when Covid-19 has passed into history most of us will still be here, straightening up the mess it left behind and applying the lessons we are being offered
[To keep perspective, let’s not forget the hazards which are not infectious diseases. The average number of people who will die in the USA today in car accidents is 3,287. Using last year’s numbers, 42 Americans will die today of gun violence and accidents.]
Was Franklin D. Roosevelt correct when he said that “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself?” I think he was, and that he inserted a great truth into a memorable oversimplification. He was encouraging the American public not to fall into a panic which would make their daily lives a hell of useless worry and produce a paralysis that would prevent them from doing the next right thing, the necessary thing.
I love the following story, and you’ve probably all heard one variation or another on this theme.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”Folk Tale
From The New Yorker
Robin and I are well into the second season of Manhattan, the series that deals with the lives of the residents of Los Alamos during those intense times in 1943-45 when the first atomic weapon was being developed.
We very occasionally have watched more than one episode at a time of any series we’ve tuned in to, but we routinely sit in for a double feature with this one.
The series’ designers have done a terrific job with the sets, the clothing, cars, and the dust … the dust of New Mexico is everywhere. You can smell it.
[Spoiler alert: Even though this is an excellent and thoughtful series, the wretched public in 2014 didn’t watch it in the numbers that they should have, so it only ran two seasons. Still way worth it.]
I found some interesting statistics in Wikipedia dealing with the present-day town of Los Alamos.
The median household income in Los Alamos is $98,458, and per capita income is $54,067. Income is significantly higher than the rest of New Mexico.
Los Alamos has the highest millionaire concentration of any US city, with 12.4 percent of households having at least $1 million in assets. This is a result of chemists, engineers, and physicists working at LANL since the Manhattan Project.
Only 6.6% of people are below the poverty line; half the rate of the United States, and one-third the rate of New Mexico. As of January 2015, there were zero homeless individuals.Wikipedia: Los Alamos
This is a small but great story. Small in the numbers of people affected … great in pointing out a creative way to help out in this unusual time.
A handful of distilleries are using some of their alcohol to make hand sanitizer and are giving it away. Yes, friends, for free!
The companies explicitly and strongly recommend that their free product not be used for making cocktails. They have a line of other bottles for that.