It’s been a week or two, hasn’t it? It seems like over the past seven days, everybody who hadn’t already realized that a Major Problem was happening globally (and who isn’t in some kind of Fox News imposed reality/denial bubble) has awoken to the immediacy of the xombie apocalypse (that started as a typo, but then I decided I liked it) and is taking steps to mitigate as much as they can given their resources and the demands of their lives.
The US Government seems determined to treat this is a stock market problem, rather than a problem in which our financial system is responding to a crisis and that same US Government’s failure to lead. Bailing out Wall Street right now is like bailing water out of a boat that’s holed below the waterline.
In a more rational response to the ongoing tragedy and crisis of care, hospitals and municipalities are bracing for impact and trying to spread the damage out over time— and so are individual human beings. That gives me a good deal of hope right now.
Now that we’ve all had a few to days to adjust to the realities of The New Normal (and to get used to the idea that this may be just Normal Normal for a while) I think it’s not a bad time to start thinking about what we want to world to look like on the other side. We still have to get there, of course, and the only way to do that is one day at a time.
But it doesn’t hurt to have an eye on the future, either. Especially when that future might be a few months of survival mode down the line. It gives you something to keep doing the one-day-at-a-time thing for, after all.
Historically speaking, the sort of crisis the world is undergoing, these periodic paroxysms of history—Wold Wars, Great Depressions, pandemics—are the sort of things that create the cracks in society that can be leveraged to create massive societal change for good… or for ill. The world is not the same place after as it was before. That's basically the definition of a singularity.
Hitler’s Germany grew out of the aftermath of World War One and the Great Depression. But so did the first real social safety net in America… the one more recent generations have been so busy disassembling since I was in high school.
It strikes me that that disassembly—the creeping anti-government sentiment that is opposed to social safeguards, the glorification of a new gilded age—is a kind of fiscal anti-vaxxing. We’ve had these protections in place for so long that some of us have forgotten what they were for, and that they are necessary.
Well, we’re about to get another hard lesson, I’m afraid. There is going to be grief and anxiety and sorrow enough to go around, unless something truly surprising happens.
It’s worth while to start thinking about what kind of social changes we want to see on the other side of this, and what lessons we might expect our governments—and our peers—to have learned. About healthcare, and social safety nets, and about other things.
Keep the faith.