“It’s hard living life on this memory-go-round.”
— Night Ranger
Gosh, remember those good old days ... from, oh, say three months ago ... when many of us lamented the “sameness” of our world as it sped by, one hour, day, week, month almost indistinguishable from another?
Wouldn’t some of that sameness be good about now?
Our country and our world have faced monumental challenges plenty of times, and our little corner of the globe has seen more than its share of life-altering events. Just in the last 25 years we’ve seen a pair of “500-year floods,” twin storms that hit all sectors of the city and county within two weeks of each other and laid much of it low, a hurricane so powerful it was still at a Category 3 level when it made its way through here — more than 130 miles from the Gulf Coast, where the storm came ashore.
We’ve had entire neighborhoods destroyed, trees by the tens of thousands uprooted or their limbs ripped off, people going days without electricity, homes irreparably damaged by raging storm waters that left the banks of the region’s waterways, and, saddest of all, people left dead in the wake of one natural calamity after another.
But none of the past emergencies that we’ve proven ourselves “Albany Strong” through quite compares to this new thing, this pandemic that hit us — “us” being the world — like a fist to the gut and has only recently started to relent.
We were able to take chainsaws to the downed trees and limbs; we rebuilt damaged and even destroyed homes; power crews from all over the country came in and restored our lost electricity. And we even buried and remembered those lost to the powers of nature.
But we are no closer now than we were a few weeks ago to understanding this coronavirus that has spread throughout the world, faster and more devastating than even the wildfires that leave destruction in their wake. It’s hard to battle an unseen opponent.
It hasn’t helped in the least that we have supposed elected officials (leaders is too strong a word) — all the way up to the White House — whose only concern about this pandemic that is closing in on 100,000 deaths in our country alone is how it is going to impact their bids to hold onto seats of power. Rather than concern themselves overly with an economic system that is in shambles and the major loss of life, they’re worried more about what voters will think if they don’t hand them out an ever-growing pile of money that — foolish voters — their followers don’t quite seem to grasp comes from their own pockets.
When the man who holds the position that has long rendered its owner “the most powerful person in the world” spends time ridiculing state leaders for not “liberating” their states soon enough — and then criticizes them when they do, an attempt to stand on both sides of the proverbial fence so transparent it would make you embarrassed for the guy if he had even one scruple to fall back on — and who ping-pongs between loving and hating actual experts, depending on what they say from day to day and how that fits into his ever-changing worldview, it’s hard to feel anything much greater than despair.
Everybody says “We’ll get through this” and “We’ll make it through this together,” but the truth is, given the lack of progress in finding a vaccine to counter this virus, a lot of us won’t. We live in a world where money is the end-all, be-all, and when the merchants of capital aren’t making any, they demand that they be allowed to do so, no matter who that puts at risk. And then, we have the blind followers of that man in the White House who would drink coronavirus soup if he told them to, and still others who feel their “rights as Americans” are being usurped when they’re told to take such stringent safety measures as wearing a damned mask.
Let’s not forget the others who are either too stubborn or too stupid to do something that not just “might” cut down on the spread of the virus, but actually has done so, who say they won’t be ordered around by someone else and so they stand tough, some of them dying, fighting for their lives of, worst of all, giving the virus to others whose only failure is intersecting with the creeps, often only by what Dylan called a “simple twist of fate.”
Sure, it’s a downer, but the reality is we’re a long way from being out of danger from this pandemic. And with so many political, selfish and financial interests drawing the attention and concern of our elected officials, it’s not likely that we will be any time soon.