How many is too many?
How much is too much?
How do we live with the numbers? These damned numbers.
R0, R1, the case fatality rate, the hospitalization rate, the rate of ICU overcrowding, the number of infected, the number of dead, the number of bodies piling up in morgues, when does it all stop really meaning anything and just become this exercise in abstraction?
And is that what we need to do to cope with it?
How do we get up and go to work every morning in a world where
the state of California had to relax it’s clean air laws so they could burn a backlog of bodies?
How do we talk about The Mandalorian and the latest celebrity gossip and act like everything’s fine while the equivelant of 9/11 is happening every day?
How do we manage to eat breakfast, put on our shoes and masks, and live our lives like we aren’t in the midst of what will hopefully be the largest and most traumatic event of our lives?
How do we live with it as a people? How do we live with it as people?
How are we going to deal with the fact that society values its utility more than the lives of a significant portion of the people living in it?
Will we eschew the values of liberal humanism or will we double down on them and if those two positions come into a conflict, who wins?
What will become of us after this?
After. There are so many things which will come after, because of this. But we aren’t living in After, not yet anyway.
The long night is not over, and this is not yet the dawn.
What does it mean to care about each other when the scope of each other becomes too large to comprehend?
Words are easy, wearing a mask is easy enough, but beyond that? To stare into the vast abstraction of intensive care units and overworked doctors and nurses, to understand that every death is a human with a name and face and story and do something with that knowledge other than sink into despair?
Laugh nervously and change the topic. Did you buy any stock in Gamestop? Check out this meme I found. Did you hear who got cancelled last week?
What’s happening to us? What is this doing to us as a culture? What’s it doing to us as people?
How do we handle the severe case of collective PTSD we’re all going to be left with?
How do we handle the gaslighting that governments and corporations are going to inflict on us to try and make us believe that they did the best they could and that they really do care for us?
When we finally emerge from the chrysalis of social distancing will we like what we find?
Will the people responsible for the mass loss of life ever be held to account? Will the systems that led to their choices be challenged? Will we ever have justice for the harm which has been inflicted on us?
How will we honor the dead? The so so many dead, so many dead that it has eclipsed the losses of many of our worst wars.
How do we make sense of it when the numbers become too large to make sense of? When the New York Times can publish pages and pages and pages of names and barely make a dent on the total count how do we wrap our minds around the scope of the tragedy and should we even try to?
How many names can you get through before it breaks you? Before it becomes too many? Before it becomes too much?
How do you keep going day after day after brutal day? How do you make sense of your new reality?
Twitch Raves, Zoom parties, livestreamed funerals, facebook memorials, how do we come together when we can’t come together?
How do we live in this world? On this Earth? How do we cope with it all and is coping what we should be doing?
If the world is insane, should we be a bit insane as well? At what point do we stop going along with it?
When does it all become too much?
How many is too many?
And if we did try to stand up to that world, what would that mean?
I don’t have any good answers, I can only hope that we can find them together.
The world will continue to turn, and humanity will heal and love and grow as it always has.
The night is dark, and the way is unclear, but night does not last forever, and the sun also rises if we can manage to survive until then.
But that if, is still an if.
The Covid-19 Pandemic is not yet over, and this is not yet the dawn.
– A poem by Shiloh Miyazaki