Full disclosure – this isn’t an upbeat column.
I’ve been bothered for some time about the perceived apathy toward the number of souls lost to COVID-19. I’m using the term “perceived” because that’s how it feels to me.
Since the numbers were in the single digits and continued to climb to the current total that is staggering to me (as of this writing just shy of 185,000, sure to be more by printing), the reaction that I see and read about feels detached and indifferent. I have struggled with this for months. I’ve written stray words down over time trying to clarify my thoughts, never thinking to write a column, but mostly to try and wrap my mind around this phenomenon.
Am I misreading this? Am I missing something? I did a straw poll with a few select people to see if others were having similar feelings and I found that I wasn’t alone in my dismay. Much has caused me dismay for some time, but this indifference to the lost souls and the families torn apart by the losses has left me shaken.
I think I was moved to try and organize my thoughts because my dismay was escalated by the fact that I actually saw a poll that was taken about whether the number of deaths has been “acceptable or not acceptable.” The fact that there was a poll about something this heart-wrenching left me bereft. The fact there was a poll sadly confirmed my thoughts weren’t isolated.
How I wish that weren’t the case. It took me a while to look at the poll results because it seemed to confirm the indifference to this tragedy. After looking at the results, I wish I could put that toothpaste back in the tube. I can’t unsee those numbers: 57% GOP: 10% Democrats: 33% Independents thought the number of deaths are “acceptable.”
How is this possible in 2020? How is this possible in America? What has happened to the America I used to know? Apathy, sycophancy, fear, anger, hatred, distrust, lies, self-absorption and other ambivalent and uncaring behavior seem alive, well and flourishing.
When did our fellow humans become expendable? I noticed with some election ads, including some in our county, which labeled differing policy views as “sins.” Really? So it’s now a sin to have a different approach or idea about solving problems? The names people have been called for having the audacity to have different views can’t be printed in a family paper. Personal attacks and demonizing fellow humans is now the norm. How sad is that?
I guess it isn’t much of a stretch for tragic, and in some cases unnecessary, deaths to be footnotes at best, ignored at worst. What have we become? People have died alone. Families haven’t been able to hold the hand of a mother, grandfather, child, aunt, sister as they passed. The corpses of loved ones are stacked in mobile morgues because funeral homes are past capacity. Our frontline health care workers are tired and disheartened. And some still moan about wearing masks for a while?
Pearl Harbor: 2,403; Vietnam: 58,220; Sept. 11: 2,977; WWI: 116,516; COVID-19: 185,000 and counting.