In order to avoid becoming any fatter than I already am during the Big Cooties I take long walks. My usual trek is a few miles and I take different routes to keep it interesting. With mask on and sanitizing gel at hand I’m enjoying my city along with a lot of other people. If I frame the images from this weekend just right it looks like I live inside a giant Instagram feed. There are families out and about, young people looking for adventure and romance, old folks stretching their legs in the sunshine, and dogs on parade. The city feels… normal. People are tired of being cooped up and we’re ready to get on with life again with varying degrees of caution and a concern for a possible boomerang of the virus.
After my walk I made dinner then stepped out to remove the trash. That’s when I discovered a line of paddy wagons parked all along my block. I asked the cops in the nearest van what was up. “Protests.” They pointed down the street to the gathering crowd.
I have trouble mustering strong feelings over things I have no meaningful control over. I’ve seen this movie before many times. Some poor bastard finds himself on the wrong end of a bad situation. Then the same exact event is interpreted in completely opposite ways. The country lines up into the usual camps. Social Justice vs. Law and Order. There’s a national uproar, plenty of sturm and drang, lots of opportunistic folks squeezing value out of the chaos, and in the end nothing much changes. Rinse. Repeat. These are problems we don’t really want to solve. So we won’t. But there are consequences to not solving them.
We had an economic crisis brewing even before the Covid-19 situation emerged, but the quarantine amplified it. We had political divisions before the latest Us vs. Them bonfire was ignited, but they were ratcheted up. I expect a new set of forces to emerge in the not too distant future that’s going to take the present turmoil to a new more acute level. The event itself may not be important. Our collective reaction is what will do the real damage. We’re weak. We’re vulnerable. We’re distracted. We’ve been unwilling to seriously address all sorts of long festering interrelated structural problems for decades. So they’re going to assert themselves in ever more intrusive ways that ramify and intensify each other until something critical snaps. Fun!