I’m trying to find something coherent to say about the crisis – meanwhile here is some light music… It’s not easy to find the positives in this situation and I’m wondering if sales of Camus’ La Peste (The Plague) are on the rise as it is a story for our times. I know I have a copy but it’s in storage so I might see if they’ve got it in the library. If the library’s still open. I guess if it’s not I could register for ebooks but I’m not keen on reading from a screen. There’s something about a book…
I seem to remember the Black Death arrived in Britain in the folds of some cloth; interestingly this particular virus seems to favour plastic and metal and not to survive long on fabric. But it is an unprecedented situation; worse than bird flu, more contagious than ordinary flu and less preventable than AIDS. And that’s the scary thing, because we don’t know how to prevent this spreading. We can take precautions but short of isolating the entire population in separate cells, there’s no sure-fire way to do it. I’m confident that a vaccine will soon be developed but in the meantime millions may die and probably will.
There are some uncomfortable truths here, and no-one has the right to utter them unless they have faced the possibility that they or someone very close to them, may lose their life. I utterly deplore politicians and other pundits saying glibly that this is a way to reduce the surplus population; and yet I can’t help thinking that in almost every generation something comes along to wipe out vast swathes of humanity. Over-population is a grave problem, but it’s always someone else’s problem. There are always too many of them, not us, but unless we can confront the possibility of us dying, we have no right to think of them popping their clogs. I’ve had John Donne’s poem in my mind this morning – I’m thinking of writing a parody:
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls/It tolls for thee.
But in the midst of all the gloom there are positives. Here are some I’ve thought of:
1. We will do less damage to the environment. Planes will stop, driving will slow to a trickle, manufacturing will also slow.
2. We may make more effort to look after each other. In a crisis people often look out for each other more than in comfortable times.
3. We will stop taking stuff for granted. No more will we blithely assume that we can nip down to the supermarket and buy whatever we want. Shelves are already emptying and many things may become unavailable. We will have to make do with less.
4: This is a long shot, I know, but we may after a while become less attached to money as the only means of getting stuff. Systems of exchange and barter may arise once more.
But I expect I’m living in cloud cuckoo land and chaos will ensue…
I’m doing a fruit fast today (something else I may have to give up) and I’ll leave you with this comic moment from Monty Python:
Be safe. Live long and prosper.