Terry from Derry: Summertime and the Dying is Easy
by Terry Boyle
Here we are, almost four months into a pandemic. And, while the reports of the virus change from week to week, the discoveries about the virus are as varied as anything we’ve ever seen or are likely to see again.
Regulations regarding how we live change according to what the scientists find out about the disease. In the midst of the calls for prudence, we’re constantly seeing people throwing caution to the wind. They refuse to take the precautions recommended and, to be fair, it’s easy to see why.
We are social animals. We don’t deal with isolation very well, and as such, restrictions tend to make us restless. There are those who live in denial, refusing to believe the virus is real, while there are others who thrive on developing a new theory as to the origins of the pandemic. It seems that the only thing we’re certain of these days is that it’s not going away any time soon.
Who would have thought that such a widespread disease would offer so many challenges? There are now studies on how our brains are having to change the way we process interactions with others. Before we could read facial cues to interpret the intentions of others. Now that we’re masked, we’re reading above the line of the mask, the eyes, to decipher another’s intentions.
Mask Lip Reading
For those of us who are hard of hearing, there was always the additional help of lip reading someone’s chatter. However, the mask muffles what they say and we’re unable to read their lips.
These are some of the simple things that complicated everyday interactions. On top of which, there is the normalized regime of social distancing, washing hands, and sanitizing. All of these things have become so much a part of our everyday life that it’s hard to think of those times when we less uptight about our hygiene.
A microbe has toppled our economy, threatened our existence, changed the way we interact with each other, and has exposed the weaknesses of our political system. Our government has hidden its head in the sand in the hopes that it will go away, despite the fact that over a hundred thousand people have died.
More will die, and yet, the government continues to deny the power of this microbe to destroy us and chooses instead to think only of self-preservation and winning the next election. Instead of dealing with human issues that affect us all such as ‘black lives matter’ and the pandemic, we have a president who cares only about his ego and his love of power. In the past months, since this disease robbed him of his thunder, we’ve seen him spout irrational tweets, hide in his bunker, and build a wall around himself.
The virus has challenged us to change or die, but it also exposes our political vulnerabilities. The White House, under this weak president, has become a rotating door to those he likes and dislikes. He hires and fires on a whim. The centre of power chooses to wrestle with social media outlets instead of providing leadership.
What we have seen is a president who goes AWOL when most needed. It’s either the golf course, the bunker, behind a military barrier, or his cellphone. Once a president resorts to using military force against his own people, he is no longer a friend of the people but their enemy. Once a leader abdicates his responsibility and blames others for his incompetency, he is a threat to the security of his people. If individual number one claims exceed reality, we need to question his grasp on reality.
The virus has shown us that we need mature leadership and not some individual who throws his toys out of the pram when he’s criticized fairly for his immaturity. It’s time for us to put the baby back in the nursery and find someone who will not abandon us so readily when our existence is under threat.
We need to find someone who can foster good international relationship with allies and reject those who have a history of dictatorship and cruelty. Since 2016, this presidency has pushed us towards isolationism and forced us to become estranged from the countries we need most. We have watched as the president has divided the country among those who love him and those who are frustrated with the idea of ego before the welfare of the country.
Black Lives Matter
There is a real problem with our government, and it has taken a microbe to expose its flaws. We’ve seen over a hundred thousand lives get little or no recognition by a government that wants to ‘move on’. And, while the White House isolates itself from the voice of ‘black lives matter’, they reinforce to protestors that they don’t matter.
The world is watching. It’s watching a travesty of justice be washed away by a slew of tweets that miss the vital point. All over the world people have rallied to the cause of addressing the injustice meted out to African Americans. What is missing is a leading voice in this country that amplifies the concerns of its most vulnerable citizens.
We have been forced to change our behaviour by a microbe, but it has not necessarily made us better listeners. We are in this together, or at least we should be. What keeps us apart is the political rhetoric of a captain Ahab committed to damning us all in the pursuit of his own ambition.