If Germs Were Bullets You’d Stay the Fuck Home
Yes, I being
the terrible puppet of my dreams, shall
lavish this on you —
the dense mine of the orchid, split in two.
And what about the staunch neighbor tabulations,
with all their zest for doom?
— The Visible, The Untrue
Hart Crane, 1933
During the many bombing raids over the munitions plant in Pozzuoli, renowned actress Sophia Loren was just a child when she was wounded by shrapnel. She survived that and she survived World War II.
When her mother fled with her and her sister to Naples do you think she was concerned about their age-appropriate social and emotional development? Loren couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. Her mother’s job was to keep them alive. Not to worry about their grades, extracurricular activities or whether or not they were making new friends.
If boredom and inertia are the greatest ills afflicting you during this quarantine, please consider yourself infinitely blessed. And please also consider the possibility that perhaps you haven’t taken enough deep dives into your psyche or the history classes you undoubtedly had in high school and college.
A now-common meme reminds us that while COVID-19 is rendering us homebound, Anne Frank’s family shared some 400 square feet with 8 people for more than two years.
When was the last time you took a shit in front of anyone? Let alone seven other people while you all tried to remain silent lest one noise from any of you might jeopardize all of you.
So many before us have been through so much worse. We can do this.
Yet it is the non-essential workers who seem to complain the most. But all they are foregoing, (I refuse to say ‘sacrificing’) are their creature comforts and their routines.
To be certain, this has had unexpected psychological and emotional impacts on most of us.
But it is no excuse, and definitely not a justifiable reason to defy #StayAtHome orders.
In too many parts of the world hypervigilance is the norm. For those crammed into refugee camps or trafficked into the sex trade, unflinching awareness of your surroundings is how you survive.
And now not even wealth or privilege or geography can protect you from the daily fear.
People are dying by the tens of thousands. Economies are cracking along the faultlines.
I know your kids are cooped up. But their age-appropriate social/emotional development is not the priority right now. In fact, it’s nowhere near a priority. We all have to recontextualize our priorities for a pandemic.
Nurses and doctors are dying trying to care for patients. Make no mistake, this may not look like a movie warzone but the casualties can be just as catastrophic. And here’s the thing — the experts are telling us the majority of the death toll is preventable.
So prevent it. Why the zest for doom? Don’t we want to protect one another?
I don’t care if it’s St. Patrick’s Day/Palm Sunday/Easter/Cinco de Mayo/Mother’s Day/Graduation. I don’t care if you miss your partner/child/grandma/friends. It is precisely because of them and all of the holidays we want to celebrate with them in the future that we are self-quarantining now. They are worth the wait.
EVERYONE misses their loved ones, their routines, the sense of safety most of have been able to take for granted in our daily lives.
Do your part. The sooner we all do our individual parts the sooner we can reunite and collectively celebrate.
Germs aren’t bullets. But right now maybe it’s not such a bad metaphor.