is not in never falling,
but in rising
every time we fall.
it is unsafe
to be intelligent.
--Isaac Asimov, quoted in TheBulwark.com
A similar process is of returning home is happening now. Many college age kids have returned to nests recently emptied. Older children area also returning home, or staying home instead of setting out into the world. They settle into a spare room, use the internet, eat the food. Some exert themselves to take care of their parents or grandparents or siblings who are less able, and do the work that needs to be done around the house. The richer and more entitled ones hunker down with gaming or other internet pursuits and refuse to even grocery shop. The internet is the difference. Back in the Old days our best avoidant distractions were books, now in the New it is the bottomless pit of sex and violence and disinformation that is the internet. A mind-corrupting abundance of dopamine hits. Back in the Old days the youth still had a work ethic that included the possibility of picking up a rake or a hoe or a hammer. Now in the New days the youth think they should have gotten rich and famous somehow but they didn't, and now they don't know what to do.
Granted, the distancing requirements and loss of employment are especially hard on young people who are just getting their feet wet in the world. But I have to put it out there that there are things worth learning and exploring at home. Elders have things to teach. Knowing how to build a wall, fix a pipe, or grow a vegetable garden, these are valuable skills. Sure, you grew up in a time when your parents hired someone else to build and repair the house, and you got your groceries wrapped in plastic from a grocery, or already prepared from a restaurant. But food grows from the earth, you too can grow it. Animal food has to be butchered--are you ready to kill your meat? This is your chance to learn some things that have been progressively more forgotten over the last 5 generations in America. It's a good time to be able to subsist.
Back in the Old Great Depression, people got happier. Several different studies noticed this change. I have lots of theories about why this was true. I suspect that being forced to work out differences with your families helps people grow up. Instead of remaining a petulant child who has it your way but lives alone, you can learn to live with others and understand and respect their point of view. I think that growing up takes us to a happier place. I think that having honest, real, loving relationships with the people you know best is the strongest foundation of happiness.
During the Old Great Depression businesses closed but there was no pandemic. In the New Great Depression we know that when the virus finds our ailing and elderly relatives, they will die. This is a very hard thing. I am mourning already for people that I talk to every day. I know that someone dear to me will die, it is only a matter of time. Back in the Old days people were dying at a normal rate. Now we are dying by the thousands and we're nowhere near done with that yet. The deep sadness is pervasive.
Being a doc and a dork too, I've been studying on COVID-19 since it first appeared. Still the magnitude of the crisis is shocking. This will be a life-changing event and it may last for years. I expect to loose both of my parents. I would not be shocked if I also were to die, but then I have been expecting to die since early in life. What surprises me is that I am still here, to see all of this. I never thought I would see the American experiment fail. I did not anticipate being alive for a pandemic. I didn't know that I'd live to see another Great or Greater Depression. But here I am, still breathing, still enjoying the sun streaming through the window and the softness of Kitten's fur, drinking hot tea, with access to internet and hot water coming out of pipes. I am waiting to see what is next. I am lucky and I know it.
Being an intravert, it is not yet a hardship to stay home. In fact, I am more connected with my family and friends because I have been making daily telephone calls. I generally avoid the telephone, preferring one-on-one in-person conversations. But now, the telephone is what I have. And the internet. I have been spending a lot of time on fecebuk. I discover more interesting articles there than I do from my own independent web wanderings. My friends are a thoughtful and intelligent bunch.
I recently read a book called Perennial Seller, about how to create and market a lasting work of art. I am a writer and a philosopher, and I have several books in the works...and I am thinking that this long period of lockdown will be a good opportunity to write. If I can persuade my dear partner to stop interrupting me with his stream of consciousness verbal leakage, I have a chance. My next hurdle is deciding which book to focus on. I shift back and forth among all my writing projects as a new idea or bit of information provokes me. This shifting--and the splitting of one chapter into two, one book into two, does not facilitate finishing anything.
Of course, because my job is at a clinic, filling doctor's orders for herbs and supplements, the business may remain open. I may be one of those who still has a job for a while yet at least. This is both a blessing (paycheck) and a curse (exposure).
--Greta Thunberg at youth strike for climate February 2020, Bristol UK
To punish me
for my contempt for authority,
fate made me an authority
--Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in Coddling of the American Mind; How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, p113.
to put up with
than the annoyance
of a good example.