What is to be said these days? Reading the newspaper is filled with a landfill of anxiety. From Trump’s narcissistic behaviour to the closing of small businesses to the need for more doctors, it all rattles the soul and raises anxiety. I keep thinking of Dickens line from A Tale of Two Cities( 1859) ,” It was the best of times… the worst of times.”, although the worst part seems to outbalance the best.
My father had polio and so as a baby I was quarantined with my mother. Fears rose higher for I had discovered a lozenge discarded by my polio- infected father and sucked on it. I can imagine my mother’s anguish as she searched for the tiny candy discarded by her sick husband. By the time he had taken sick, we had our own little house. According to my sister, born years later after my dad’s polio, my mother and I were quarantined. Our meals arrived through our breadbox.
I never asked my mother about this period of my first years, but now I wonder, “ How long did the quarantine last? Who dropped off food? How did she endure? Was Miss Scott, our downstairs boarder, also quarantined or did she move in later to help alleviate financial drain with my father hospitalization at Riverdale Hospital? Likely, she came after my dad disappeared for nine months. Interestingly when I goggle “ polio quarantine” there are no references , only descriptions of symptoms and the eventual cure. There’s more print on the bubonic and Spanish plagues.
Yet I find this from The Elwood City Ledger in Pennsylvania that had posted in 2016,
Epidemics were common. In 1916, there were more than 27,000 cases and 6,000 deaths from polio in the United States with more than 2,000 deaths in New York City alone. The names and addresses of those with polio were printed in newspapers daily. Every summer, there was a polio epidemic that created a lot of fear. Meetings would be canceled, children were warned not to drink from water fountains and to stay away from swimming pools, beaches and places where people gathered. In the United States, the most serious epidemics occurred in the 1940s and ’50s. In 1949, there were 2,720 deaths from polio.
Perhaps to lighten the situation of this present pandemic, I read Barry Hertz’s review in The Globe of the latest in the series of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the recognition of the Larry David in all of us, for example his placing Purell , “ liquid gold” on the tables of his “ spite store.” Yet, Hertz ruins the ending of the series by describing the final outcome in the last episode. Thanks a lot. For me, wanting to forget it all, I transport and fantasize my dark thoughts in my head by viewing Outlanders, Brockmire, My Brilliant Friend.
We’ve discovered that tuning into the news before bed should be avoided if we crave a decent sleep. Morning newspapers, Global at 5:30 and Lester Holt with his “ breaking news” a bit later provide an overview. Yet each morning I wake, grab my IPad in hopes of news that the virus is waning, the line flattened and signs of some hope reappearing. “ Hope springs eternal”. Silly Alexander Pope.
Another story by Lawrence Martin uses a certain Dr. David Katz to perhaps explain Trump’s desire to reopen the country and remove sanctions to “shelter at home.” Katz suggests, according to Lawrence, that since most effected are over 60 years of age anyway, the government should focus on this small demographic, thus allowing the rest of the economy to return to normal.
Unwise thinking for so many reasons: the community spread, the numbers in the lower than 60 age bracket, the immoral retrograde Darwinian attitude that only the strong need survive, asserting money/ business is so much more valuable than human life. That is not to say, trade, commerce, money are not essential, but it must come second to the endurance, preservation and maintenance of healthy bodies that can eventually contribute to the wellbeing of not just themselves, but the community, the world. My friend Joe sends me an article by Nick Bryant, from the bbc news, that analyzes the Trump behaviour precisely. It’s definitely worth a read.
One can see and feel the anguish of Governor Cuomo in New York, and the hard straight talk of even our own Justin Trudeau who like the school teacher addressing an unruly class sternly admonishing, rightly so, “ Enough is enough”. And more restrictive measures need be put in place for a public who either do not listen or refuse to.
Yet we hear of truly stupid people listening to the President who holds out predictions that a certain drug hydroxycholoroquine may be a panacea, and people actually purchasing it! or what they mistakenly believe, and dying from their own actions. The pandemic expert immunologist at his side, Dr. Anthony Fauci gently correcting predictions of Easter recovery as “ aspirational”. One wonders if the good doctor will remain standing side by side with the delusional Trump and windup doll Pence if he continues to correct the President.
It also makes one wonder about the citizens with whom we share this world. Those who would act so precipitously, following the American Pied Piper down the lane of destruction. I hear with utmost incredulity Trump’s rating has not suffered and surmise the followers who would put themselves at risk are the same mislead group who support him unequivocally. As one writer stated, it’s the same Trump that was elected, but made worse by the horrific times.
The latest Gallup polling reveals the split in the United States, sadly mirroring the divisions that are fracturing the country: 94% of Republicans approve of his handling of the crisis, compared with 27% of Democrats. But overall, six out of ten Americans approve, pushing Trump’s approval rating up again to 49%, matching the highest score of his presidency. And I add a guffaw when I hear that he had intended to send guards to the Canadian- American border. Pray tell, what sane person would rush towards New York for infection and contagion?
Marsha Barber in The Star runs with the idea of ageism in terms of who will get the ventilators in this crisis. In Italy, they’ve had to decide. And with more cases, and even procedures to split the machines, she interviews Dr. Michael Kenyon, an ICU doctor in British Columbia. He is quoted as saying, “…and eventually 50-year-olds off the ventilator, and I’m going to give them to 30year-olds with three kids.”
According to Aish, an Orthodox Jewish organization, it’s all about who is most likely to have the best chance of survival. And in established Jewish law, when medical resources are limited, the resources go to those most likely to benefit from a particular therapy. However without any doubt that oldsters are undervalued, I believe that “ those older folk” would always and gladly cede their place in line to their grandchildren or any child, for that matter. But to add to this attitude of bias towards those over 60, an additional term “ Okay Boomer ” has deepened the darkness of resentment with “Boomer Remover .”
So if you are wondering about the best of times, reread the following paragraph, and know life has been irrevocably changed and will be different in the time after, but as always,
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had ( have) everything before us…