13. Comparison

Thursday April 16 2020

Woke up in a brighter mood today, dunno why. I’m fighting the urge to cling to my smartphone or Kindle and to get stuff done instead.

Before I plugged the smartphone into the charger, to get it out of my hands for a while, I did see a quote that was attributed to Dr. Acton. Not sure if she did say this, but it sounds like her kinda wisdom. It had to do with criticism against those who take quick action in the face of an impending disaster; they are accused of taking things out of proportion and fear mongering. Which, as a side note, is exactly what I did. Then after the danger has passed, the criticism is that not enough was done in the beginning.

We live in the moment, don’t we? Where are we now and why all the suffering, is what we ask. The unknown brings anxiety, which breeds fear. When we can’t find the answers ourselves, we find them through with rumors and untruths. It’s a matter of having control, I think.

At the beginning of this, around the time the restaurants were reduced to carry-out meals only, Derek asked if I’d seen anything like this in my lifetime. I was still deep in denial mode, accusing the governor of overreaction with his new orders of social distancing.

Well, I said, there was the AIDS scare in the eighties when homophobia was running strong. This was a new disease with a guaranteed death sentence and we didn’t fully understand how it was transmitted; assumptions were made from touching doorknobs to toilet seats, when it was none of those things. Even in our developed nation with good healthcare, we couldn’t save those who contracted it. No treatment back then and the disease was exceedingly cruel, it just ravaged the body. We all felt we were at some level of risk, but definitely not at the highest risk of those other people. If we got AIDS, it wouldn’t be our fault – it was theirs.

The movie Philadelphia helped bring a cultural understanding with its sensitive view and it personalized the disease, showing it could be anyone you might know within your circle. And of course, now we have a higher awareness and better pharmaceuticals, so not only are there fewer cases, but lifespans are increased.

But the AIDS epidemic was nothing like COVID-19, which has no preference on who to infect. This time it is doorknobs and toilet seats. It’s gas pump handles and hugs and grocery carts and standing only five feet apart instead of six. People are sanitizing their groceries when they bring them home. Kroger’s parking lot is littered with latex gloves and disposable masks. This time we’re all just a cough away from breathing it in and wondering if we’ll be part of the 4-5% death rate.

So to answer Derek’s question … No. I have not seen anything like this in my lifetime before.

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