So, when and if this coronavirus crisis does end …
“It’s survival in the city when you live from day to day.” — Joe Walsh
“This, too shall pass.” That’s something we have heard all our lives, right? And as familiar as it may be, the sentiment is still an effective one to use when you are trying to be both genteel and imply that a little perspective might be needed in whatever discussion of the day in which one might find himself.
Everybody, including me for a long time, just automatically assumes that it just has to be biblical in origin, and as a general rule, that would appear to be a mighty good guess, what with the “shall” and all that’s otherwise only used by dead English authors and lawyers. In fact, as an even more general rule, if you don’t know who said something, guessing either that it was Will Rogers, Mark Twain, Shakespeare or that it is biblical will get you by, more times than not.
But not this time.
Fact is, “This, too shall pass,” is not biblical. It is not to be found in either the old or new testaments anywhere. And fact is, neither Will Rogers nor Mark Twain nor Shakespeare said it either, and since Google uses a heap of words to wind up concluding “we don’t know,” by the power vested in me by the column gods, I am going to hereby award its etymology to my mother, because I don’t know that she said it first, but I am quite certain that she, often infuriatingly, sure enough said it all the time. “This, too shall pass” is something that you often need to hear, but seldom want to.
Its authorship, though, is now established. Momma wins by sheer volume, alone.
But, truth is, now would be absolutely the perfect time for her or somebody else to say it, because this COVID-19 pandemic is going to pass and at very least the less myopic of us need to start thinking about just exactly what kind of country this United States of ours is going to be when it does — regardless if that is weeks or months or years.
And when it comes to THE subject in the country, the COVID-19 coronavirus, there is a truth which gives me little confidence and absolutely no peace of mind: Exactly how bad things get in the next month or two or 18 in a great many ways depends primarily upon us, the American people — the same group of folks who elected Donald Trump.
There are some 327 million folks in this country today and how many of them are left after this first round of the virus comes and goes (there will be others) depends on how well we do what the experts tell us to do. Best case scenario, somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 of us die, a staggering number that the now slightly fact chastened Trump says would be a “victory,” while the worst-case scenario is 1.1 to 1.2 million, numbers that finally, apparently, got the great orange one’s attention (Will somebody please fix his makeup/tanning routine so that he might look slightly more presidential and slightly less like a jaundiced raccoon?).
If Americans take to heart drastic restrictions to their daily lives and livelihoods as physicians and politicians alike are calling for, the eventual death toll could be in the thousands instead of the millions, but even if we are successful in the now ubiquitous “flattening of the curve,” we need to do so with an awareness that in so doing, we both lengthen that curve, stretch it out over time, and odds are, we will have to do so again, as there is apt to be more than one curve.
And in what is not criticism, but simple recognition of reality, we must understand that the President of the United States, as would most other politicians, is viewing all of this through the prism, the toilet paper tube vision, if you will, of his November re-election chances.
That’s why the man who avoided press conferences for the first three years of his presidency now is front and center at one every day and why those press conferences have turned into mutual admiration societies among his “team” and perpetually voiced, fawningly obsequious tributes to his leadership and vision.
Denied the opportunity to rant and rave at his “rallies,” and always in need of a foil to play off, Trump has found both at these daily “briefings,” in which foil du jour seemingly alternates between “the invisible enemy” and a press corps retaining the unmitigated temerity to ask questions he doesn’t want to answer.
More and more epidemiologists have begun to think of COVID-19 like the 1918 Spanish Flu, which infected approximately one-third of all the people alive on Earth at the time, killing at least 50 million, some 675,000 in the United States, alone. That pandemic came in three different waves, a mild one in the spring, followed by the most serious one that fall and a last one that winter.
God help us, should this one prove COVID-19’s lesser wave. And at least the smart among us had better start thinking about the implications of that and the actions they would prompt, should our new viral buddy become the un-welcomed visitor who refuses to leave and the (overly?) optimistic new 30-day projection become more like the 18-month one until we can develop and distribute a vaccine.
After all, when you are “the greatest nation on Earth” and “the world’s only superpower” you have a lot to lose.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.
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