I’m an angry person already, so this pandemic crisis is not making me any more sanguine, let me tell ya. It’s gotten so bad, it feels like a COVID symptom of its own.
Truth is I’ve had it. I thought I had it before with the racism and climate denial and homophobia and xenophobia and corruption and media-bashing. But this Covidiotism is all of that plus more. When did people get so awful? How can so many people be living in this cult — because it feels like a cult — where they are willing to put empathy, generosity, and all common sense aside to act like a 2-year-old? But 2-year-olds don’t kill people.
How insane is it that some people view wearing a mask as somehow anti-American?! I am infuriated that there are people who deride or even spit at mask wearers, while only blocks away people are putting their life on the line at checkout counters and ERs. How can people be so soullessly mean? How can I stop wanting to see their waxen lifeless faces in an open coffin?
My mother’s only lament about being a Holocaust survivor was the anger she carried her entire life at the Nazis and the Germans who looked the other way. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve inherited that anger epigenetically. I don’t think I can handle this much fury without it affecting my body and spirit.
I understand a certain degree of lockdown frustration. Everyone is afraid. Businesses are tanking, household nerves are fraying. It’s hard, especially when you don’t know when it will end. If people knew their lives would go back to normal in just another month or so, maybe they could handle that. But nobody knows. The uncertainty feels like it’s killing them — more than the virus might.
I also recognize that some of this irrational denialism is regional. The person who rants “it’s nothing worse than the flu” or “it’s a politicized hoax” may live in an area that has not yet been hard hit. Some are just Libertarians, who bristle from being told what they can or can’t do.
But what makes me the most upset is the realization that our president and his billionaire cronies have a far more insidious agenda: ridding the country of those seen as expendable. People of color, poor people, old people. Dying for the Dow is nothing short of cold-hearted genocide.
After Mr. Trump was elected, I became fascinated with the issue of small-mindedness. Why, for example, are most white people in the south Conservative? I recognize that some of it has to do with rural vs. urban populations. But much of how we think politically feels cultural, emanating from long-held family and community values. There is no denying that institutional racism exists everywhere in this country. But in certain areas, there are far more people with Confederate leanings. Far more people who hate immigrants or gay people. And far more “religious” people who espouse beliefs that are antithetical to the teachings of Christ. Are some people just more evil than others?
I don’t think so. I think all humans harbor the potential for both good and evil. I don’t think I’m intrinsically much different from the Good German who thought my 5-year-old aunt deserved to burn in Auschwitz. What made that person so willing to suspend their horror? Is this what happens when a tribe feels threatened and wants to protect themselves from the outside invader? Are we hard-wired like this? And a better question, is there a pill for it?
The bottom line is that this behavior is going to kill us. And I’m not just talking about anti-lockdown attitudes. I’m talking about all of it: the entire human response to fear that translates into harming others and the planet. But I’m also talking about the anger. Because anger can definitely kill. My mom popped a vessel in her brain and so did her mom (right after an argument, as it turns out). There’s a good chance, the same could happen to me. So I’ve got to figure this out.
I suppose I could stop reading the news and social media. I should meditate and do more yoga. I should probably take more political action (we all should). But part of me understands that what I really need to do is cry. Anger is the flip side of depression. And when you are an angry sort like me, you tend to rage instead of feel.
These are horrible times. People are suffering. People are dying. People are behaving immorally. I must cry for what we’ve become.