Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Simpsons geek. Back in ’94, an episode aired (Episode 114/2F08 “Fear of Flying”) where Homer gets booted from his favorite bar. Despondent, Lisa attempts to cheer him up by telling him that in Chinese, the same word is used for “crisis” and “opportunity” – “crisitunity.”
As of today (March 11, 2020), the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase, while the stock market continues to shit the bed. Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues to act as if he were elected to be King of the Deplorables rather than President of the United States of America.
I suspect that these problems are going to get worse – maybe a LOT worse – before they get better. I am also concerned that some of the problems inherent in the American political and social fabric will compound the problem greatly. For example, the lack of decent healthcare coverage, and the lack of paid sick leave for many employees will make the virus spread wider and faster than it would where people can actually take sick time and receive medical treatment without totally screwing their budgets.
Yet, there may be some good that comes from this crisis. At least, that’s what I tell myself whenever I feel the Fear slipping up on me again. Which I do every day, now. If it weren’t for Uncle Dad’s Secret Calmative Elixir, I would have self-quarantined weeks ago.
The problem is that it takes a crisis of huge magnitude to even move the meter when it comes to addressing the problems which have seemed for year (to me, at least) to be problematic and dangerous: grossly uneven distribution of wealth and resources, a dominant political party where clinging to power trumps considerations such as truth and rule of law, an inexcusably underfunded healthcare system – particularly in rural communities.
I could go on and on, but hopefully you take the point. As I said, these problems have been glaringly obvious even to a knucklehead like me> However, there are so many powerful parties with a huge financial interest in maintaining an unsustainable status quo that real change seems impossible.
Will the massive financial and healthcare shocks that are already starting to manifest as of this writing (March 12, 2020) actually result in positive change in the long run? Lord, I hope so.
Still, being a true Murkan, I’d prefer that it’s someone else who has to bear the brunt of the suffering required to mandate such a change. Is it worth it if someone I care about loses their job, gets sick or even dies? Or maybe my number will be the next one that comes out of the hat. No way to tell, and no point in worrying about it too terribly much. (Thanks, Uncle Dad!)
Ultimately, what happens over the next several weeks and months will define the course of the country for decades to come. Will we be able to pull together and put the common good ahead of our own selfish inclinations, or will we descend to the Trumpian I-got-mine-screw-everyone-else attitude that has manifested over the last several decades.
The first attitude is American; the latter, Murkan. Ultimately, I have faith that the American spirit will prevail and that the country will emerge as stronger, safer and more equitable than it is now. I just hope that not too many people will suffer during the process.