In my college days I read about the bygone art of elaborate insults and curses. Sometimes flowery or indirect, they were much more inventive than the one- or two-word epithets flung around in high school. One of my favorites was an old curse supposedly translated from Chinese: May you live in interesting times. Clever. I always liked it, but it is only lately that I’ve fully understood the depth of it. These are interesting times.
The virus is raging across the country. Over 11 million cases, more than a quarter million dead. Yet some people still think the virus is “fake news.” The governors of North Dakota and Iowa, with their states’ hospital beds filling up, have finally mandated masks. For months, both governors had resisted imposing any restrictions, but reality has an unpleasant way of eventually intruding on false narratives, no matter how carefully constructed.
Oregon has shut down again. The shutdown in our county is, for now, to be for two weeks, but the county to the north, with most of Portland in it, is to be shut for four weeks. Our governor has done a good job of guiding us through this time. Our state’s overall infection rate is climbing but under her leadership remains one of the lowest in the country. But not everyone is happy, of course. The newly elected county chair has said “My family will celebrate Thanksgiving with as many family and friends as I can find.” She’s also called the governor a tyrant. It’s discouraging that this woman was elected to county chair. She’d been voted off the council in the previous election, so it isn’t as if people didn’t know she’s a loose screw.
With the new restrictions, we are again ordering our groceries online and having them brought out to our car. On our trip this week I saw a Subaru with a huge American flag. I’ve become inured to the oversized pickup trucks with the large flags, but a Subaru? It just goes to show the limits of stereotypes.
Four years ago a majority of voters were shocked and disappointed at the election results, but there was grudging acceptance. Now a minority of voters are shocked and disappointed and refusing to accept that they didn’t again prevail. Is it any wonder many people still refuse to accept the reality of the virus?
I drove into the city to get new glasses — actually updated lenses in my existing frames. Every time I go in I see more tents, more graffiti, more dissolution. The feeling is one of social breakdown. The increasing numbers of the dispossessed cannot be wholly laid onto the virus and the shutdowns. It has been building for a long time, but one would think the people in power for the last four years should bear SOME responsibility, despite their deflections. It doesn’t seem reasonable to lay the blame completely on the victims and those shouting from the sidelines.
The dark and rainy days make it easier to stay home. I’m spending a lot of time reading escapist literature, but at least I’m not sleeping 14 hours a day as I did my last year of college.
Yes, these are interesting times.