Everyone, everywhere, Santa Fe to Timbuktu, is talking about the same thing.
Has there ever been a time like this? Instant information, distance from the environment, and a global threat to public health: a new set of conditions to steer all seven billion of us down the same path. I suppose you could argue that any conversation during either of the World Wars was ultimately about the war, but you could still go out and get drunk, and there was still a side to take. COVID-19 is in everything, and despite the efforts of some charlatans to spin it to their own ends, the virus brings with it undeniable truths — contagion, illness, and death, but also hand-washing, elbow-sneezing, and flattening the curve — to alarm and compel.
If it’s true that everyone reverts to a base state during a crisis, I appear to be a pessimist, or at least a cynic, drawn to the more troubling scenarios than the hopeful ones. It might instead be that a media diet of RNZ, The Guardian, and Twitter leads the average person to doubt humanity in general. I am trying to leave the tabs closed more often.
The hard part, though, is that I, a know-all hipster since I could talk, am forced to live through COVID-19 with everyone else. There’s no lesser-known virus you probably haven’t heard of. I am in this and this only, just like you. How irritating.
But — also — how hopeful, actually. When has every person in the world had to stare down the same disastrous consequences and act in unison to prevent them? And when have so many signed up so willingly?
There’s no medicine. People are the medicine, in so many ways. And it’s just as well I don’t have anything different to say, because it isn’t my job to make sense of it; to zoom out and paint the picture in a way others might understand. My job is to stay home.