So . . . we appear to be coming out of the other end of the corona virus pandemic. After a year plus of being told to stay home, live in isolation, and wear masks, we’re being told that it’s at least semi okay to start to take off the masks and socialize a bit. It’s rational to have some hope that we’re not all going to die horrible deaths in understaffed Intensive Care Units.
Huzzah! Now we can get back to normal!
The question that I’ve been dealing with lately is what exactly IS, “normal?” And, secondarily, did I ever really, truly KNOW what normal is? Because it appears to me, in looking back over the past year, that a whole lot of people are a whole lot crazier than I ever thought they were.
The Moon is, “the crazy card,” in the Tarot. It represents insanity, delusions, illusions, self-deception. The juxtaposition of the dog and the wolf howling at the moon show us that our evolution from pure animal state was not that long ago. The crawfish crawling out of the water shows our most primitive, prehistoric state of being emerging from its murky depths.
We’ve seen a lot of murky depths and de-evolution over the last year. Two things stand out in particular.
The first is The Great Toilet Paper Insanity of 2020. We, as a society, received the news that we were faced with a horrible epidemic that could kill millions and millions of people. A virulent plague such as the world hadn’t seen in a hundred years. Humans were dying like flies in a cosmic spider web in China, Italy, New York, and no end was in sight.
And our response was . . . BUY TOILET PAPER!!! Lots and lots and lots of toilet paper. Buy so much toilet paper that the shelves of grocery stores would be stripped of the stuff for months. Buy more toilet paper than we could use in five years. If elderly people and weak people who couldn’t shoulder their ways into the head of the line didn’t have any toilet paper because we’d bought it all . . . well, FUCK them!
It was truly insane in the real definition of the word. You can’t eat toilet paper. You can’t heat your house with toilet paper. You can’t wrap your shivering body in toilet paper during the freezing winter months. Toilet paper – to a sane mind – has a very limited value in our overall lives. It’s good for wiping our asses and blowing our noses. Period.
Yet, in a matter of just a few weeks, people had been hypnotized into believing that it was the most valuable commodity on earth. And it was a truly bipartisan hypnosis. This wasn’t just a bunch of far right, neo-conservative survivalists hoarding toilet paper. I have friends on social media who are life-long, foaming at the mouth, liberal-progressives who were proudly posting pictures of the two hundred rolls of toilet paper they had stashed in their hall closets.
Huh . . . who could have seen that coming? In all of the post-apocalyptic movies we’ve seen, in all of the creepy end-of-civilization Stephen King novels we’ve read, has anyone EVER mentioned toilet paper? Was there EVER a scene of a howling mob breaking into a grocery store and killing each other over . . . toilet paper?
The second, much darker, much more disturbing scenario that emerged was the embrace of the, “herd,” vision of humanity, particularly as it applied to frail people and old people. At a certain point, the medical model of the virus that emerged was that it was very likely to kill older people and people with pre-existing health problems, less likely to kill healthy middle aged people, and unlikely to kill younger people.
Using that knowledge base, a pretty brutal theory emerged: for the sake of, “the herd,” it would be better if older people and sick people were exposed to the virus and just . . . you know . . . died. The Lieutenant Governor of Texas actually said that it was somehow the DUTY of older people to get out there, get exposed to the virus and die, because that would get the economy open faster and there, “are more important things than living.”
Strong evidence has emerged that the anti-mask movement that many of us found so puzzling was never about, “political freedom,” at all. It was about ensuring that the maximum number of people would be exposed to the virus as quickly as possible in order to achieve “herd immunity.”
Now, that’s basically one small step down from Nazi eugenics. It’s a theory that views humans as a herd, rather than as individuals. If there are members of the herd who are sick or old, they need to be, “culled,” out so that the herd will stay healthy and vital. Yes, millions of people will die, but think how much healthier we’ll be AS A WHOLE after all of them are dead!
It’s exactly the same mentality that led the Nazis to proclaim that, “the Herd,” (the Master Race) would be SO much better after we eliminated the Jews, the Blacks, the Gypsies and pretty much anyone who wasn’t a pure aryan, whatever the hell that is. If you’re willing to expose people to a virus that you KNOW is going to kill them, that’s essentially a gas chamber mentality.
The salient point, of course, is that we AREN’T a herd. We’re a society. One of the hallmarks of virtually all societies is that they take care of people who are old and ill, they don’t just kill them. We don’t toss Grandma into a lake with a cinder block around her neck because she’s become a bit of a pain in the ass. We don’t execute people because they’ve got cancer.
So, yes, in reviewing this last year, I have to conclude that there are a whole bunch of us who are pretty fucking nuts. And some of us are pretty fucking nuts and pretty fucking brutal.
The question is – being realistic and acknowledging those facts – where do we go with that knowledge? How do we react to the idea that the lunatics seem to be running a large part of the asylum? Do we withdraw and hide? Do we view other people with contempt or fear?
The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is to just react with compassion.
In The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) don Miguel Ruiz points out that many people are barely conscious. They’ve been programmed by their parents, their churches, their schools, and society at large to NOT think. To NOT question their values or their reality. They just get wound up like little robots when they’re children and they go through their lives never really waking up. In essence, they’re Sleep Walkers, stumbling around in the darkness and not even having their own dreams.
When we see something like The Great Toilet Paper Insanity of 2020, it just reinforces that truth. If your response to a life threatening situation is to grab as much toilet paper as you can, you’re not thinking, you’re not reasoning, you’re not even awake. And that is sad and that deserves compassion.
If your response to a life threatening situation is to view other humans as being somehow expendable so that you have a better chance to live, as mere members of a herd, then you’re cut off from love, from empathy, from basic human decency, and you’re living in fear. And that is sad and that deserves compassion.
What I believed to be, “normal human behavior,” has turned out to be a pretty thin veneer over a LOT of crazy shit. I’m probably going to be a little more cautious around my fellow humans after this, a little less open and willing to believe that we have a common vision of the world. But I also know I’m going to be a lot more compassionate toward them.
And that’s a good thing. Hell, I’d trade 40 rolls of toilet paper for a little more compassion.
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