Are you even going to read this?
Can’t say I blame you. If you’re anything like me, you’re having a bit of a hard time concentrating, these days. You know: you force yourself to do something normal, but then you find your hand creeping towards your device, like a spider. And you start scanning again.
Holding your breath. Muttering curses. Shaking your head.
People buying in panic. People fighting in line-ups. People hoarding. People gouging. People doing reckless things, like having St. Patrick’s Day parties. People willfully circulating lies and fear and loathing on social media – like that the virus was created by someone’s military, or that warm temperatures will kill it, or that black people don’t get it.
You don’t read the stories. You just scan them, because there’s just too much of it. You look at the ubiquitous photos of empty Walmart shelves, you peer at a graph showing mortality rates. And then you inhale and go back to trying to be normal.
Social distancing. Flatten the curve. Pandemic, epidemic. Containment, asymptomatic, R-naught. You know the coronavirus lexicon, now. Words and phrases that, just a few days ago, you never ever knew. Things you never considered.
Everyone remembers, supposedly, where they were when JFK or Bobby or Dr. King were shot. When 9-11 happened, or when Trump somehow got elected. We remember bad things. Things that happen suddenly.
This foul, remorseless virus – this cruel Biblical-sized pestilence – didn’t happen so suddenly. It crept up on us, slouching towards us on whispery feet in the dark. While we slept. And then it was upon us, with a ferocity we never imagined possible.
If you’re a germaphobe and an amateur prepper, like me, you’ve actually been scanning the headlines for the virus for a long time. Sure, big events got in the way – Australia on fire, Iran killing 57 Canadians on a plane, locust swarms in Africa, more mass shootings, Neil Peart and Kobe Bryant. The usual unspooling of evil and tragedy.
But coronavirus finally seized everyone’s attention in a single news cycle about a week ago – when Tom Hanks got it, and when the NBA cancelled the season, and when Trump gave a speech so stupid, so dishonest, it triggered a global stock market crash.
That’s when everyone started to pay attention. That’s when everyone looked at the clock, and decided it may finally be ticking towards the End Times. At long last.
And, so, coronavirus has held us in its icy grip, ever since. It’s been the undisputed boss.
We try and maintain a normal life, sure, for the kids or our parents or each other. But it’s hard. We keep reaching for the infernal device, and scanning and scanning and scanning. And we kind of wonder if we’re now extras in some terrible B-grade sci-fi movie about the end of the world.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re wondering when I’ll get to the point. When will this Kinsella guy stop depressing you, and say what he’s going to say?
Fair enough. So here it is.
And, by the by, it’s from a guy who has been to Hell and back in the past year, and has prepared the song list for his Irish wake more than once: we are all going to get through this. We are going to make it. We are going to prevail.
Covid-19 may be a Hellishly effective virus, one that presently defies our scientists and physicians. But humanity is more durable. People are stronger than this. Better than this.
We are going to beat this foul little bastard.
It goes without saying: Don’t hoard. Don’t gouge. Don’t panic. Don’t butt in line. Don’t be inhuman.
Do all the stuff you’re being told to do, sure. Wash your hands with soap (it’s easier and cheaper than finding hand sanitizer, you know). Cough in your sleeve, if you have to cough. Stay off planes and cruise ships. Maintain physical distance when you’re out and about. Work from home. All that.
But do other things, too. Extra things. Check up on elderly neighbours. Run an errand for them. Give extra to a homeless person (who must be regarding all of this with the deepest terror). Stay in touch with everyone you know. Maintain as much of your regular routine as you can.
Play music in your socially-isolated space. Dance. Exercise a bit. Learn a recipe. Finally start that novel you wanted to read or write. Binge-watch something (uplifting) on Netflix. Tell jokes. Sing from balconies. Sing like your life depends on it.
Because, you know? It kind of does.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve figured out the writer is no expert on disease or viruses or epidemiology. He’s no authority on anything, really.
But he’s a bit of an idealist, and he wants to make you into one, too. He wants you to know that this isn’t the end of something, it’s possibly the start of something better. It isn’t the apocalypse, because we go through several of those every week, when you think about it. It isn’t the end.
So, know this: we will beat this. We will win. We will prevail.
Because we always, always do.
Photo Credit: NPR
The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.