March 11, I guess

Today, maybe yesterday, I don’t know –the time change is big math– is, I suppose a pretty big anniversary. It seems like the day shit got real in North America. For me, at this remove, it’s not quite such a big day and not altogether a bad one. If anything, it was kind of a happy day. Not happy. That’s not really the right word. It was more of a relief. It wasn’t that America suddenly had a COVID problem. It had just finally, though clumsily, acknowledged it.

Here, of course, by the time that happened, we had been dealing with the thing since late January. There wasn’t a single day when things changed. Even the 대구 outbreak wasn’t a sudden “shit just got real” moment. Like, a lot of the outrage around that outbreak was due to the fact that gathering together in a church was already definitely something not to do.

It was much more of a gradual escalation here. Gradual but fast. The awareness of a new virus in China and that it had come to Korea. The fear of coughing in public and fear of those who did, the mask advice, sudden mass testing, emergency alerts, advice to avoid gatherings, and measures to make that possible, advice to stay at home. One outbreak laying waste to so much of our efforts.

That outbreak felt like a bomb had gone off. But it had been ticking. And we knew it was a bomb. We were trying to diffuse it when a church tripped over a wire and it exploded. I’m not sure the same can be said about North America. That’s not the feeling I got.

Speaking broadly, I remember watching the case numbers in America and Canada, which were really high even without much testing, and thinking “What the fuck? Are they doing nothing?” It left me feeling half-mad. How much of this was in my head? Had I lost it?

And it wasn’t just the government or the bozos on the beach either. Even just people I knew in North America seemed totally, blissfully, unaware of what was coming or what a pandemic would mean. I saw people –intelligent and well informed people- wondering what this would mean for science fiction conventions and spring training. What would the guidelines for the polyamorous be? Will this be over by summer? Isn’t thinking about closing this or that all a bit of an overreaction? That sort of thing. It just felt like they knew about it in the abstract but just really had no idea how much of life was now over.

I’ve never actually seen a chicken running around with its head cut off. But I imagine seeing one running around like that feels a bit the same. You’re already dead, chicken, lay down! I’ve also heard that after decapitation, the human head retains consciousness for thirty seconds. I now wonder if it also makes plans for next month. It would not surprise me.

I’m not trying to be judgmental here. I don’t have any judgements about the people who couldn’t quite process this before it happened. Just a couple months earlier, I was the same. So I’m sure not trying to say “THE FOOLS!” My goal, rather, is to point out the weird disconnect between what we had been going through over here between what was happening in North America. And why that day wasn’t really a bad one for me.

It ended a disconnect.

It felt almost like a reunion.

My feeling about it was pretty much FINALLY!

Not “finally they have the bug” because that ship had sailed. And certainly not “finally they’re lives are now fucked up too” because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. But just “finally, they’ve acknowledged the situation.” Finally, they might finally start to do something to fix it.

Of course, it didn’t exactly work out like that.

I expected a clusterfuck and a genocide and it sure looks like we got both. I wish I knew how to stop such things. I don’t. As far as I can figure it, people are far too concerned about distant and abstract power. They have too much imagination. They worry about a lot of shit that’s above their paygrade. They protest the president. They should protest their boss.

Like that fucking arm of power right in front of you? That little finger? Smash that.

I firmly believe that, in this life, people too often waste their time trying to extend their reach. If they were only more concerned with what was already directly in reach and focused their efforts on changing that shit, they could do much more, much faster, and much better.

There’s more risk in attacking the power right in front of you. It’s much scarier to confront your boss than it is to tweet at POTUS. There’s more consequences.

Does that explain the refusal to confront the power right above a person? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s cowardice. I don’t even think it’s a refusal. I think it’s more of a blind-spot. A type of ignorance. A lot of people just have a lot of it twisted. They just don’t know –right in their very blood and bones– that the power is with them. I can’t blame them. Not when almost every fucking thing in life, media, and our institutions is set up to occlude that power.

So they try to change things from the top down. They think the head is the most important thing and they aim at a head they can’t reach. So the problem must be the reach. They try to extend their reach. They think if they extend their reach, they can then reach the head and then they can change things. So they spend too much time trying to extend their reach and not enough time changing things. They ignore what is in front of them. But we already have enough reach. You’d be fucking amazed with what you can do with what’s right in front of you. If you just, simply, start to do it. Like, fuck’s sake — look how buff prisoners get! A cell can be a gym. As long as you use what’s in front of you even if it’s just your body weight. But if you keep spending your time sending membership applications to GOLD’s, well . . .

It’s just a confusion.

An understandable confusion but still a confusion.

To my mind, always go after the head you can already reach. That’s more than enough work and you actually stand a chance. Not a great one, but at least you stand some fucking chance. And, you do that right, you get more reach anyway so . . .

But, be that as it may, I think we can pretty much agree that this all could have gone a lot better. And although I understand that this may be a sad day for many, I don’t think there’s anything sad about opening your eyes. That’s all that happened a year ago. Eyes opened. The sadness is in the wasted months before and after this day. This was a day when something better seemed possible. And every day still has that possibility.

It was a disappointment, tho. No arguing that.

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