Unable to Sit Still

I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man’s being unable to sit still in a room.

Blaise Pascal

I follow a rare few people on Twitter. Late last night I unfollowed and blocked one of them. She wasn’t someone I knew well, a fellow writer whose posts were largely tame and occasionally enjoyable. Of late she’d been questioning the reasons for maintaining the stay a home orders, which is fine. I think all rational people wonder about how and when to reopen safely. I know that most Americans are unable to sit still in a quiet room with their own thoughts for too long. Last night, though, she just embraced the madness.

Aegrescit Medendo

With deep sincerity, she proposed that more people in the United States will ultimately die from the effects of the shutdown than from the virus itself. There was no data presented to back this up, only her gut feeling. She cited the distraught people, out of work and facing financial hardship, who will commit suicide. Concern was expressed for the children stuck at home with abusive parents, who without open schools will have no refuge, and no eyes on them to see if they’re okay. There were a few less-compelling arguments, but the bottom line was a sincerely held belief that the sum total of these events would exceed the death toll of the virus. The cure will be worse than the disease, as the Mad Carrot has said on multiple occasions without once realizing he was quoting Virgil.

If selfishness is the order of the day then I get to play along too. I am high-risk. If I catch COVID-19 I am likely to die. Her argument essentially says that my life is worth less than the lives of those who might die of secondary and tertiary effects of the pandemic. I should be willing to sacrifice myself so that some other soul might live. That’s some narrow-minded and hateful bullshit right there.

Unable to Sit Still

How about this: It’s not a hard either/or choice. Why not take action to secure the economic stability of those out of work? I mean, other than a one-time check for $1200 that some people might not see until September? How about providing mental health care to people, the way every developed nation in the world other than the United States does? Maybe do a better job overall of protecting children from abuse, whether there’s a fucking pandemic going on or not? Hmm? Could we do that, perhaps?

Why not do something radical and try to save everyone? This isn’t a goddamned zero-sum game. We don’t need death panels to determine who’s worth and who isn’t. There’s no fixed quota of dead people that we need to meet to ensure to shore up another quota of survivors. Nothing is inevitable, and everyone is worthy. Maybe open your heart, open your brain, and shut your mouth.


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