Now that President Biden has officially thrown us under the bus, I think we have to come to terms with a few unpleasant truths.
First, there is no cavalry coming to save those of us still fighting to keep from being (re)infected by SARS-CoV-2 or any other horrid disease. We’re that first small group of survivors in a zombie movie, trying to come to grips with a reality that’s been upended as we struggle to survive. Stop thinking in terms of, “The President and Congress should do <prudent actions to save American lives and health>! We must make them see reason and get them to change course!”
I hate to be brutal about this, but stop smoking hopium. Unless you’re a billionaire donor or major corporation dumping money into their PACs, our illustrious leaders are not going to do any such thing. That ship has sailed, hit the iceberg, and sunk with all hands. Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell, McCarthy – none of them but the few real progressives in our government give a single damn about you, me, or anyone else. Don’t believe me? Critically evaluate their deeds, not their words, and be honest with yourself about the conclusions your inner voice articulates.
Second, we’re now in a new phase of the pandemic in terms of maintaining what I’ll call a viable mental shield wall. The pressure to engage in high-risk behaviors, to “get over it,” particularly unmasking, is going to be far, far higher now that the “pandemic is over,” even as an ever-growing list of SARS2 variants circulates like a bunch of hungry sharks.
- “Come on, let’s do lunch in that restaurant you used to like so much – it’s just this one time indoors. You’ll be fine!”
- “My brother and his family are coming to visit! Yes, I know they don’t mask or anything and are making a few other stops on the way, but we’re NOT masking or asking them to test – that would be rude!”
- “Dude, all your coworkers think you look like an idiot wearing that stupid mask. Come on, man! The pandemic’s over – the President said so!”
- “If you want to attend this meeting, ditch the mask. What are you afraid of, anyway?”
- “Get that stupid face diaper off! What a loser.”
You get the idea, and many of you have probably suffered these engagements, or – worse – actual physical abuse or outright assault. That’s going to become more common now, too. We “believers” who refuse to accept the propaganda are now officially heretics, and the government that has thrown us to the viral wolves isn’t going to go out of its way to protect or defend us from harassment or attack, either as individuals or as businesses, by our fellow citizens who chose to conform. We’re an embarrassment, an unpleasant reminder that the pandemic may not REALLY be over. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC and one of the main villains in this national tragedy, said it best:
“I just know people are tired. The scarlet letter of this pandemic is the mask. It may be painless, it may be easy, but it’s inconvenient, it’s annoying and it reminds us that we’re in the middle of a pandemic.”
Most Americans can’t (won’t) do anything inconvenient or annoying, even if it’s painless, and all of us who continue to wear our scarlet letter masks remind them that we’re STILL in the middle of a pandemic. And they’re going to hate us for it, even as they repeatedly get sick, get long COVID, and die because they refuse to accept the inconvenient truth that SARS2 is long from done with us.
Third, the best thing every one of us can do is find a support group, a community of “right-minded people,” as a knitter at a nearby mask-required-no-exceptions yarn store told my wife. It doesn’t matter where: in person (N95s or P100s on, of course), on Twitter, other social media, here on Pandemic Enclave – it doesn’t matter, just find a survival group. There is safety and support in numbers, in community. Just being able to talk to others who believe as you do can be a tremendous comfort, even if they may not be able to fix or heal you or help with what you’re going through. This is especially important now, because when it comes to being a COVID believer, many have lost the support of their traditional support networks: family, friends, church, coworkers, who have drunk the kool-aid and believe the pandemic’s over, COVID is mild or a cold, etc. And for those who already felt they were on the threadbare fringe of society because, for whatever reason, they were seen as “different,” finding community now is even more important.
As a corollary to finding a support network, be an active supporter. Don’t just lurk: reach out and be there for others like you, even if just to show that you “see” them, that someone out in their cold uncaring world does, in fact, recognize their humanity and care about what they’re experiencing. Just being a good listener, a shoulder to cry on, someone who can sympathize with the plight of another (especially if you’ve gone through it or are now going through it yourself), can make a world of difference to someone. And never, ever forget: ALL OF US have value, ALL OF US have worth that goes beyond our ability to turn a profit for the economy. Lift one another up and be kind and patient with one another, because we “no ones” are the only ones left who will.
Finally, accept that we’re in this for the long haul – for years more, yet. In the U.S., at least, there’s not going to be another Warp Speed effort to produce better vaccines or antivirals – why should big pharma put money into that when the pandemic is over and the government isn’t going to be buying a few hundred million doses at a time? Congress isn’t going to appropriate any more money for any sort of COVID relief for the same reason: Biden is punting the entire affair to our predatory “health care” system where our suffering and death will be viewed through the eyes of corporate CFOs and measured based on our profit potential. We will also face an increasingly dire situation with our health care providers in terms of safety (many have dropped any pretense at COVID protocols), timeliness (so many of us sick, so many of them sick – or dead), and quality of care (many doctors aren’t even close to current on COVID, even after all this time), particularly in assessing and treating long COVID symptoms.
Find your community. The road ahead is going to be tough, but we can share the load with one another to lighten the burden we have to bear. That’s how we get through this.