Margaret Mitchell’s tart and tantalizing Scarlett went from indulged to forsaken during the Civil War. She saw her world crumble as her many protectors abandoned the sprawling plantation. Some took to the hills and deserted her. Some just died. Trauma induced lunacy claimed others. Untethered, she faced her fate alone. In charge of a tumbled, uncertain future; returning to Tara was her only solution.
I see our world much like Scarlett’s. Our states are once again at odds. Our lives, previously so insulated, are now unsettled and chaotic. As we wage war against an invisible enemy, our protections erode. Task forces come and go. Our input and gains from a global effort are lost. We’ve been deserted by the lunatic in charge of the battle, and we cling to the notion that somehow, such horror could never happen to us. We are Americans! How dare we be inconvenienced! We, too, want to return to our former world. Our Tara.
Rhett Butler’s famous line concerning the illusion of the Confederacy’s strength comes to mind. “All we have is cotton, slaves and arrogance” he warned the zealous young enlistees. Today our lifestyle is our cotton; our conveniences our slaves. And an arrogance that promotes blind allegiance to anything that speaks to our fears; a modern bravado that seeks out easy solutions to perceived threats. Those that find reality too difficult, or inconvenient, cling to theories that feed their need for security. Bizarre conspiracies posted on line, or twitter feeds at midnight go down easier than hard science. Rating-crazy talking heads spew out the latest disinformation, no longer thwarted by the need to fact check. Those in the usual role model positions indicate one thing, and do another. Analyze? Not any more. It’s now rationalize and sensationalize. Facing facts means getting them. Not those alternative ones. The scientifically based facts.
And the facts tell us that we are dying. By the thousands. That increasing exposure by liberating our communities will increase the death toll. That those in charge have no plan other than to inspire the enemy. And the voters. And the donors.
Clearly, we are on our own. Tara was, and is, a myth. But this virus is not. We will never be able to go home again. Not completely.
So, give a damn. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. And get your affairs in order. The winds are changing…