Okay, so I don’t know who the heck opened Pandora’s box, but here we are facing all the evils in the world unleashed by COVID-19. There are no guarantees we’ll survive this virus or the economic disaster thrust upon us.
States are beginning to reopen, some slowly, while others are opening the flood gates hoping to quickly jump-start the economy (and generate votes in November).
Life has been a blur locked in quarantine with my two overly crazy kittens. Long before the world shut down in March, I already was sequestered at home recovering from hip replacement surgery. Trust me, after all this time and my new hip in tip-top shape, I am more than ready to sip a margarita at my favorite Mexican restaurant. But I won’t. I’m still afraid.
Coronavirus has laid bare the ills of our society … the greed, the selfishness, the hatred, and the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots. The rich may feel a bit strapped as as they lose a million here or there, but each day the lower-middle class and poor are falling off the financial cliff into the abyss.
It’s true that Pandora’s box was opened ages ago. Greed, poverty, envy, disease, hunger, war, and death have always been here. But now they have a voice, a platform which elevates the hate, the anger, the white supremacy, the evil selfishness to a whole new level.
What will our lives look like when America flashes the “WE’RE OPEN” sign? I’m not optimistic that it will be a great as the “I’ll be damned if I’ll wear a mask” crowd thinks. It will be a new normal for sure, but the people who actually care about each other (still the majority I believe, however naively) will continue to wear masks, wash their hands, and social distance well into the future.
Yes, I’m a crazy old cat lady who’s been cooped up with her feline friends way too long. I am jaded and growing feistier with age, but at the same time I am encouraged by the creativity and flashes of goodness still out there.
Virtual graduations, drive-by funerals, distance learning, Zoom family gatherings, and food deliveries to those in need. Who’d have thought these innovative ways of staying connected would be all the vogue in 2020. This week, I stood outside as a parade of middle school teachers drove by, honking their horns, showing students how much the teachers missed them. It was refreshing during an otherwise hum-drum, same-old day.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. As Dickens predicted, here we are in the age of wisdom and foolishness. Pandora’s box set loose the dragons, but there is still a flicker of light. Hope for a world that has lost its way, a world that has forgotten the biblical “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Islamist, Taoist, Sikh, or Jew, all religions subscribe to this Golden Rule. Medical professionals got it right. First do no harm, something our politicians should seriously consider.
When Pandora opened the box, she managed to close it with hope inside. So with that in mind, I did something I don’t do much these days. I suited up, donned my mask and my superhero cape, and made a valiant trip to the drug store. Boring I know. Baby steps.
Very few people in the store were wearing masks and some clearly didn’t understand social distancing. I watched a young mother with her six-month-old son, both without masks. I stared at the mother wondering if she or her son would be the next lucky winners of the COVID lottery and end up on a vent in ICU. I looked upward, sending a silent plea to keep both mother and son safe.
I listened as a 40-something, balding guy wearing an expensive Omega watch chatted with the $8-dollar-an-hour-clerk. The customer was loudly venting about China causing this pandemic while bashing all Asians. He clearly flunked geography as he confused other countries with China. All the while, an elderly Asian gentleman stood swaying back and forth in line, looking uncomfortable. The boorish rich guy noticed the Asian man’s discomfort and flashed a haughty Cheshire Cat grin. I wanted to punch him.
For a moment I was silent. Words failed me. Bolstered by my mask and superhero cape, I summoned my feisty old broad spirit, smiled at the Asian gentleman, and turned to the Neanderthal at the counter.
“Excuse me Sir,” I said loudly enough to be heard over my mask and the six-foot social distance. “Don’t believe all the bullshit you hear from our president who would be king. The Chinese people are not at fault and race baiting is abhorrent. This is not some Chinese plot to bring down America you worthless twit. Their death and suffering from the loss of loved ones is no less sacred or less painful than ours. You sir, are an asshole.”
I braced myself for the barrage of cuss words and personal attacks that usually result from my uncontrollable outbursts. The man’s whole demeanor changed. He went from a cocky entitled white dude to a scared little boy who’s mother had just caught him with his arm in the cookie jar. He yanked his credit card from the clerk’s hand and scurried off with his head down, mumbling a soft “Motherfucking Bitch!” as he left the store.
Hmmm. So this wearing a mask thing might have benefits after all.
Pandora’s box. Greed, hatred, pestilence. It’s all still out there in full display. Yet, I hold out hope. Hope that my family and I survive this post-apocalyptic world. Hope that everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, color, or gender makes it through these dark times. Hope that common sense prevails and we not only survive, but thrive. And, hope that tomorrow will bring a brighter future, one where evil, hateful voices are silenced (or at least dimmed) and the best of humanity rises to the occasion.
One can only hope.