The politics of the virus and binary choices
David L. Horne, PH.D. | 5/14/2020, midnight
To the Chinese, this is the Year of the Rat. To the rest of us, this is the year of the coronavirus and its resultant COVID-19 disease. It is also the year of More Trump or no more Trump, and the year of deciding whether we really want a republican democracy or not. In other parts of the world, it is also whether to fight the plague of locusts alone or do multi-level fighting at the same time against the inexorable virus that is coming or has already arrived.
These all seem to be binary choices, and though in form they seem to be relatively simple in construction and understanding, they all merely mask much more subtle choices within choices.
Should we pay attention to the clearest, most consistent messaging from our varied political leadership—shelter-in-place, maintain social distancing, wash your hands a lot more, wear masks in public, etc.—or should we flaunt our individuality and do what we want with whom we want, and go, go, go wherever and whenever? Secondarily, is this pandemic scare even about you and me? Isn’t it just a hoax? Isn’t it just a proper punishment for long-term, White arrogance? Isn’t this the curse of 5G?
Still too many of us are answering such questions physically without weighing the intellectual implications. Thus, another fight breaks out in a local grocery store over who is and who isn’t wearing masks in public, and what difference does it make to whom? Actually, one can look virtually anywhere and see those who’ve decided—by action if not thought—they aren’t going to obey any of these new admonitions, so just pass the joint, brother.
Certainly, these are not the times that reward cloudy thinking or doltish behavior. To come out alive, though battered, on the other side of this, we must resort to clear, calculated, thinking. There should be no more public street parties, nor open rap concerts and beach binges until we all arrive into safer zones.
Why is that so difficult a concept? Why is muddled thinking on the rise along with the infections? Yes, more elderly and more Black folk are being taken out of here proportionally, but the question of the time is not for whom the virus comes, it’s is it coming for me? Or for you? Or for us all? It is time for us all to be woke.
A few thousand miles east in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia (along with Bahrain, Iran, the Yemen, and Egypt) a plague (this is hundreds of collective swarms) of billions of locusts is eating its way in all directions, destroying crops, damaging food supplies and creating the conditions for a resulting famine. Biblically, we have all heard of such visitations, but they were thought to be confined to another time. Well, regardless of what we thought, they are here and human attempts to control these giant flying grasshoppers have been barely making a dent.
There is to be another outrageous insect attack from June through July, and the predicted result is not just food insecurity for at least 11 sovereign nations, but outright starvation for more than 30 million people in that part of the world. And the desert locusts can fly over to Asia, too, as they have in the past. Climate change conditions have been blamed for this new rise of the locusts.
The overall point is, we are faced with mounting global issues currently, and we cannot afford to stick our collective heads in available holes. We must mentally rise to the challenge, or we will surely be overwhelmed by the majesty of our trials today.
Take this as a warning: do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee if we don’t adjust our sights and minds.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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