This is going to be a new exercise for me, an unknown experiment really, where I attempt to flip my usual reality (long, long before this quarantine) from the harsh, bleak vision I seem to have always had about the world, with its cracks, its unfairness and its hopeless misery, and try to see the good in people and the world we have made.
It is a sad thing to consider, when given the time and space to think about it, just how much we loathe each other. Oh, plenty of us talk a good game about loving our neighbors and caring about people we do not know, but most of this presumptive philanthropy is self-serving, and there are very few acts we commit to, in fact, where we try to make the world a better place. We walk by a homeless person drowning in a gutter and avert our eyes (or maybe toss them a handful of change like a cheap whore in a 1950s motel room). This is hardly even out of guilt, but merely a distaste for tragedies we are not interested in acknowledging, that stink clouding up the air that you breathe.
But such a dire circumstance, today (and which writer out there isn’t in some way inspired by the drastic changes all of us have been making over the past week?), this can force a serious re-evaluation on what is actually true, about what’s important, and about everything we have lost since our online virtual reality devoured our sense of community (the dire warning of the cyberpunk science fiction movement; see William Gibson (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780441007462&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used), among others).
We are not a social species, not anymore as we exist today. We have become so solipsistic that we are not even aware of our selfishness. Somehow we can’t see outside of our momentary needs (which often prove unnecessary). And this sort of societal success–for there is no better word–that allows us to shut out the rest of the world, perhaps this can give us insight into why we have all grown so angry, so partisan, so utterly filled with contempt for one another that we find ourselves divided even in the face of catastrophe.
Perhaps it might be worthwhile, should the weather permit, if we spent a day or two without electricity, without any gadgets at all, our only distractions being those nearby that we love, and the remaining few within our immediate circle we are required to tolerate. Yes, a self-power outage to restore some sense of community. Games, story time, maybe a wrestling match with your dog or small child on the floor We can start from the inside, shirking whatever anxieties presently consume us, and be merely content with those surrounding us. This is an experiment, as stated at the very start of this piece. We can even turn our homes into the laboratory, compiling data on the attitudinal changes each one of us experiences (or lack thereof), and record this information for future reference, at a time when it seems like we can no longer tolerate ourselves.
Being positive, an anathema for someone with my outlook on life, perhaps this is the best way to handle our illness, the one that goes much deeper and is far more virulent than any slung arrow nature hurls toward us.