Exposing Our Flaws; or, The Reward of Patience is …
I’ve heard it said that as people get older, they become more of what they are. Because of the unmistakable fragility that has been revealed over and over again during The Trump Pandemic, I am inclined to believe that the exact same truism is true of both structures and infrastructures.
I don’t exactly need to proof-text it for you, but here are a few examples.
The Small Business Loan Relief program ran out of money — partly because large, corporate restaurant chains scooped disproportionate amounts of the fund. They have teams of attorneys and staff to deal with the paperwork, and long-term credit relationships with banks. Generally speaking, Mom and Pop do not.
More than 22 million people have applied for Unemployment Insurance since the stay-at-home orders began. State governments have stripped state unemployment offices down to the bare minimum. They can’t process normal claim numbers. Certainly, not abnormal ones either. Don’t get me started on the abysmal interface between state and federal unemployment systems.
Food banks all over the country are closing in the face of lines of cars idling around more than several blocks. In those cars are mothers who have lost three jobs, and still need to feed their children. At the same time, farmers are saying they’re throwing out 10 million pounds of food a day because they can’t get it to those who need it. Um, trucks?
Speaking of the coronoavirus, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Monday, “The question is, how long is the descent, and how steep is the descent? Nobody knows. Just as nobody knew how long the ascent was, nobody can tell you how long the descent is.”
His questions also apply to structures and infrastructures.
How long is the descent? How deep is the descent? How long will the ascent be?
Perhaps a better way to phrase it is: how far do we need to let structures — be they roads, buildings, or health care systems — deteriorate into chaos before we get the message and start to fix them? How deep are the flaws? It seems a new, more frightening flaw is exposed daily.
Like Governor Cuomo, though, we don’t know, we can’t tell you.
Over and over again during this pandemic, I find myself gasping in horror through the news as more and more flaws in the structure of our country are revealed. My gasps are several-fold.
First, I’m horrified that systems upon which I, for one, was certainly raised to rely are proving themselves entirely unreliable.
Second, I’m horrified that I, who count myself as socially conscious, had no idea, no real idea, that our social net had been so thoroughly gutted.
Third, I’m horrified that so many of us have become so wrapped up in just making ends meet and getting food on the table that we have developed an immunity to our own complacency.
That I have to admit the third one about myself really bothers me.
David A Kessler, M.D., writing in The New York Times, said yesterday, “We need to face this fact: Returning to our old reality will be a slow and frustrating process that will take many months and require deep wells of patience. We will not be fully free until we have a vaccine. So how will we navigate this perilous terrain?”
Forgive me, but St. Augustine pisses me off. Believe me, if I ever get to wherever he is, I have a few choice words for the holy man who wrote, “The reward of patience is patience.” Yeah? Patience this, I want to fling at him.
Dr. Kessler went on, “Just as we obey the most basic laws in order to protect all of us, everyone needs to accept responsibility for not only our circle of friends, family and colleagues, but for the wider community. Our collective behavior will be the primary determinant of whether we can keep this virus in check. We each hold the health of our neighbors in our hands.”
I’m sure there are people who hold a far bigger perspective than I do on the problems that are facing us to restore the economy. I know there are medical wizards who hold the vast scope of epidemiology better than I. And, certainly, there have to be politicians or policy wonks who understand the great web of social security that FDR attempted to create.
The flaws in all these systems are almost more than I can bear. I can’t see where or how to begin the repair work. Can you?
Bernie Sanders asserts that we need to completely re-examine the American system of values, and restructure everything based on taking care of everyone. Okay, I can go there. Maybe he’s right.
What I don’t know and can’t quite grasp is where to start.
Attorney Barry Berke wrote in “Impeachment Taught Trump All the Wrong Lessons,” “While serving as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, I warned in my opening statement for the committee’s impeachment hearings that if the president got away with what he did, “our imagination is the only limit to what President Trump may do next.”
Humans, as a rule, have excellent imaginations. Mine, and I’m sure a lot of yours too, has delivered up a bona fide nightmare in The White House.
Mr. Berke’s essay is worth quoting at some length. Excerpts follow: “The parallels [between impeachment and the handling of the coronavirus by the president] are striking and, as with all recidivists, are particularly important for what they reveal about the president’s motives, intent and modus operandi. In other words, we have seen this movie before.”
Do we want to rewind and watch it again? Even to skim the good parts? I don’t think so. I think the flaws are exposed to the level of R-Rated. I particularly liked his naming of The Narcissist-in-Chief as a recidivist. Amen.
“There can be little doubt that the president acted knowingly and intentionally in putting his personal and political interests over the health and safety of the American people by delaying the measures recommended by his advisers.”
Not new information, I know, but a good reminder anyway. He’s done the same thing with what used to be the National Stockpile, and he is now saying , and I quote, it’s “for us.” Who the hell is ‘us’ if not us, who live in the U.S.? Oh, wait, that’s not what he meant; he meant The Trumps.
“What these disclosures reveal about the president’s state of mind is not that his impeachment and Senate trial distracted him from these risks, as he and his supporters now claim. To the contrary, he was very much aware of these risks [with coronavirus] in real time, and his acquittal taught him that he could use the same means to again get away with abusing his power for his own selfish purposes.”
Here’s this morning’s latest Distraction Technique: “I’m closing down legal immigration.” Look, there’s Haley’s Comet! Playing to his base, he’s thrown another monkey wrench into the public works of care for his constituents. He, sadly, doesn’t care.
Mr. Berke again, “There is one administration official who deserves to lose his position for once again putting his own personal and political interests before those of the nation. The American people will make that decision in November and teach the president the right lesson.”
And in the meantime, Beloved, what is the right lesson for us to learn?
We are all human.
We all need the same basic things.
We all want our health to be supported.
We all want our systems to support us.
We all, like it or not, want what we want when we want it. How human.
And that’s not going to work, not this time.
No, dang it, St. Augustine, that so-and-so, is right. The reward of patience is patience. I remember being in a prayer class in seminary, and the teacher warning us never to pray for patience. In fact, she said, “Never, ever pray for patience.” Some enterprising seminarian raised his guileless hand and asked why. “Because,” she said with a cocked eyebrow, “you’ll be given opportunities to practice it.”
So I’m going to go out on a limb for the moment. There are several things we can do starting today.
First, beware what Paul Krugman rightly calls, “One thing the coronavirus has thrown into sharp relief is the centrality of quackery — confident pronouncements on technical subjects by people who have no idea what they’re talking about — to the whole enterprise of modern conservatism.”
There’s also this: “Consider how Fox News responded to the unwillingness of Dr. Anthony Fauci to do what it wanted, and support an early reopening of the economy. To provide an alternative view, the network turned to … Dr. Phil, whose expertise, if he has one, is in pop psychology.”
For what it’s worth, “[T]here’s a strong overlap between organizations that promote climate denial and those that promoted virus denial.”
So with just these few things, we can start to make changes.
Give some serious, patient thought to the news, and what is really true.
Give some serious, patient thought to politics; there’s an election in November — make a choice and VOTE.
Give some serious, patient thought to climate change, and pick one aspect of it to care about, support, and work toward. Mine is trees.
Give some more serious, patient thought, and maybe even some feeling, about what part of the rest of this big change you want to have a say in. Likely, it’ll be local, and you’ll be able to make a difference right where you are.
The illustrious Mr. Krugman again, “All of these factors making modern conservatism a happy hunting ground for fake experts have reached a kind of apotheosis under Donald Trump, a grifter president whose whole political strategy is based on catering to white male grievance, and who both disdains expertise and always values loyalty above competence. And one result is the wildly premature push to reopen the economy.
“The good news is that many governors will probably ignore this bad advice. But others won’t, and the result will probably be many additional, avoidable deaths. If that happens, understand it for what it is: death by quackery.”
My primary virtue is not patience. Neither are my secondary or tertiary virtues. But I do know this, Beloved. We must commit ourselves to rebuilding the structures and infrastructures that hold up a good life for everyone of us in the U.S., and for that, I can find infinite patience.
Dr. Susan Corso is a metaphysician and medical intuitive with a private counseling practice for more than 35 years. She has written too many books to list here. Her website is www.susancorso.com
© Dr. Susan Corso 2020 All rights reserved.