Ed. Note: Here is the second of an East Village Magazine’s new feature, the Coronavirus Diaries — personal accounts and commentary from our writers to attempt to capture some of what we’ve all been going through and reflecting on what it means.
By Robert Thomas
Like an old crow perched on the very thin wire of elder mortality, I see dead bodies and lethal viruses everywhere. While COVID-19 is particularly dangerous to this village elder, paying acute attention to the human power game being played out around me during this pandemic is even more crucial to my daily survival and the survival of my community.
When I heard the lieutenant governor of Texas strongly suggest we elders self-immolate on the altar of Mammon in the intertwining interests of corrupt political and economic systems, I knew my viral dangers were more than biologic, but no less lethal.
The red glare of the virus’s global destructive path clearly illuminates a rat’s nest of vaccine-proof human viruses colluding with COVID-19’s scorched earth policy. Cons, cults, corruption, greed, and stupidity coagulate to dance with COVID-19 in a macabre portending of a perfect viral storm. A pandemic biologic virus awash in a caldron of equally lethal human viruses, explains fear and loathing as a state of being and a manipulative tool of conscious human power.
My location is critical to my assessment and orientation.
Here in Flint, it is Yogi Berra’s deja vu all over again when it comes to lethal viruses of human origin, propagation, and transmission. We have been thoroughly schooled in chicanery, confirmed by failed leadership at every level and its dire consequences for we the people.
We have had our constitutional right to vote revoked by an emergency manager state law that was twice voted down by we the people. The law continues to stand because it remains financially enabled; not democratically determined.
We have learned what it means to be controlled and poisoned by economic and political policy.
We have learned we were nobodies, collateral damage in a rigged deck casino, awash in the corrupt territories of Mammon where even religious cults were promoting hateful division and the idolatry of money and power. What with preachers proclaiming the Gospel of Wealth and an atheist in the White House mandating that COVID-19 would disappear, “like a miracle,” the con was definitely on.
Like biologic viruses, cons replicate as situations dictate. What the con requires is carriers, the power of the cult. The enablers of the supremacy of the Great Leader, the ringmaster of the con, are indispensable to the shepherd’s dark arts of command, control, and magical thinking. The Great Leader’s essential voice is the Pravda of propaganda, the voice of the con and the cult. The language, Gibberish, issues forth like the divisive fumes from the Tower of Babel.
Then along comes COVID-19, a real game changer at every level of human existence. Biologic viruses don’t care about power or making a buck; they just go on being viruses following the natural order of their evolution. There are no economic, political, or religious ideologies that COVID-19 respects. But it becomes daily apparent that human viruses have found various ways to take advantage of the pandemic—economically, politically, and religiously.
Economically, I watch neoliberal capitalism shape-shift into coronavirus capitalism.
Politically, I daily witness corruption at the highest levels of business and government.
Religiously, I watch ministers preach the voodoo of snake oil salesmen; then die from the consequences of their blind faith in delusional deities of their own construction.
Two events transpired to shift my perspective from economics, politics, and religion to our existential morality play in which human good and evil joust for supremacy.
The first event was a conversation with a seasoned medical front-liner who is family. One need only listen to the medical heroes in this viral war to hear truth speaking to power about the lethal failures of leadership at the highest levels. As my personal medical hero put it, “I used to know what was expected of me when I went to work; now I have no clue because there is NO PLAN at the top from my employer.”
The second event was the Great Leader of the United States “musing” about ingesting disinfectant to miraculously kill COVID-19 “in about a minute.” What his suggestion omits is that if you follow this prescription, you will be dead about a minute after you kill the virus.
As a rule of common sense, I abhor leaders who suggest one drink the hemlock at their behest.
In the case of the Reverend Jim Jones, he had his sheep wash down his poisoned cult baloney with lethal Kool-Aid. While Jim is a piker in the human history of Great Leader serial killers like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot, he will forever remain the monster who sticks in my craw.
Before Jones shepherded his faithful flock to their Guyana self-sacrifice for the Great Leader, he gathered them via his church in San Francisco. At that time, I drove a city bus that serviced the neighborhood in which his church was located. Many of his sheep were my regular passengers. My abiding memory is they were decent, church-going people who had found a shepherd they could follow to the Promised Land. Which he did, and they responded faithfully, to their eternal regret, I presume.
The major difference between the con and COVID is morality, essential to the survival of our species due to the powers of human consciousness. COVID doesn’t respect anything but its nature to proliferate. Exploitive human viruses are all about that and much more. Conscious human predation at the expense of its weakest members and our earthly garden is a terribly destructive power. That we are the most destructive species on Earth assents to the lethal dangers of our human viruses.
While we Flintstones are taking another serious blow to our survival, I would rather be here with my village people, my community, than anywhere else because here no amount of pettifogging and gaslighting propaganda will ever change what we have learned the hard way, we lived it and survived. We are standing our ground based on our lessons learned.
We learned to hang together, rather than separately.
We learned to howl until good spirits heard us and solidified the collective howl.
We learned the dire results of being poisoned by policy.
We learned the beautiful power of social concern and the necessity of the common good.
We learned to exercise our 1st Amendment right to speak truth to power.
We learned the cancerous damage the metastasized replication of hate and divide does to the common good and the E Pluribus Unum of village life with neighbors.
We learned to share, cherish, and protect our common humanity from the forces of evil.
Flint resident Robert R. Thomas is an EVM board member, frequent book reviewer, and former cable car driver in San Francisco.