It was one of the many cogent observations, following the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S. that the reverberations of the multiple incidents and the nearly 3000 deaths would continue long after the grieving and the anger. Not only were two wars incited by the attacks, travel restrictions were introduced, a Homeland Security monster, and a transformation of how each of us perceives and relates to the world.
It is this latter concept, the injection and embedding of what now seems a permanent psychological, if not also physical, biological, cognitive and even spiritual anxiety, that began in the early months and years of this 21st century, and has been significantly exacerbated with the now year-long onset of a global pandemic. In the middle of the first decade, there also fell from the sky-scrapers on Wall Street, an economic downturn that can be traced to a resilient reservoir of greed, credit derivatives, bankruptcies generating multiple bail-outs.
Recently, public health figures have documented a spike in depressions, suicides, marriage failures, job losses, business closures, food shortages, and also remarkable stories of home schooling by parents with neither the training nor the experience to accomplish this task. Individual biographies of single mothers, struggling with part-time or no employment, home schooling, food shortages, and a residue of both resentment and anxiety, depression and even hopelessness can and will surprise no one who has been paying attention to the daily narrative. Add to the list of immediate and pressing needs, in nearly a half-million families, in the U.S. the deaths of a family member from COVID-19, many, if not most, of those deaths preventable if the former administration had not adopted a narcissistic, and highly cavalier attitude to the exigencies of what could and should have been a national public health program on steroids.
Commentary on the prevalence and the profundity of the social and mental health earthquake in which the world is trying to cope, may seem so redundant, if it were not for the facts that stare people who are engaged in the face:
· That COVAX, the international group allegedly purposed with providing vaccines to underdeveloped countries and their people, when that program will meet only 20% of the estimated need
· That the wealthy nations seem to have joined a competitive race to acquire and then distribute and inject millions of vaccinations into the arms of THEIR OWN people, as quickly as possible, in order to address the urgency of the political moment,
· That the truth of the matter, without a global elimination of the virus, and its continually growing number of variants, in every country, county, city, town, village and hamlet on the planet (mission not a single one!) the rest of the world will continue to be subject to surges of the pandemic, and the need for additional, alternative and highly effective vaccines, as the mutations will continue.
· That the pharmaceutical companies, given a developed nations’ mind-set favouring the capitalist model, have both been given and have taken the “upper hand” in when and how they will develop their unique vaccines, the prescriptive modalities of their administration, their storage, and their relative effectiveness. Just today, the Astra-Zeneca vaccine has been pulled from administration in South Africa, for the reason that it is not sufficiently effective against the variant that has emerged in that country.
· That national governments have been scattered, non-collaborative in their approach to the original production of vaccines, (Operation Warp Speed was an exclusively American trump-warped program excluding all other nations) and that there is still no conjoined, collaborative, unified and effective arrangement, under the auspices of the WHO, to assure equal and universal acquisition, distribution, funding and storage of vaccines, a measure that will only impale the efforts of each nation and region, thereby assuring the continuing spread and mutation of the virus.
· That the world was warned at least five years ago of the impending certainty of a pandemic, without taking specific, collaborative, and preventive steps to forestall, and/or to minimize, and to limit the scope and the severity of the pandemic.
· That the failure of the world leaders to take joint, substantive, preventive and then collaborative action in designing a strategy, and the necessary tactics, in both public health and ecological prevention measures, is a foreshadowing of the extremely limited, and thereby further anxiety and depression-inducing reality that the world is not prepared for the already extant impacts of global warming and climate change
· That the separation and the segregation of the public and the private capitalist sectors of the governments of the developed world, especially in regard to confronting the impact of both the pandemic and climate change, render the world’s population victim to a degree and ubiquity of self-serving narcissism in both camps, to which neither the pandemic nor climate change will be subdued or even managed effectively
· That the world continues to experiences the largest spike in refugees, migrants, and displaced persons from a variety of nefarious and preventable circumstances, each and all of them compounding the already stretched shared capacity and structures or world governance,
· That world leaders continue to bicker over what are deemed to be serious conflicts among and between various enemies, while the condition of both the world’s population and the globe’s planetary ecosystems continue to suffer from what can only be considered political negligence, political indifference, insouciance, parochialism, provincialism, and an adamantine refusal to surrender a single iota of what they call sovereignty, for the greater good of humanity
· That the diplomatic establishment clings to the model, and the modalities of national sovereignty if and when another country, or its diplomats, dare to question the practices around ethnic cleansing, detention camps, the poisoning of political opponents, the state murder of journalists, the public documentation of corruption by state officials, in another country. And this “hands-off” approach is not only stultifying and negating any potential amendment to the abuses in human rights that continue to abound, but also sustains a political “soil” and climate that will continue to favour and to protect the persons, the agenda and the greed and corruption of those already steeped in those projects.
· That the world’s international bodies, such as they are, need to be seriously and creatively transformed urgently, while the debates in national political discourse barely cast a glance in the direction of international co-operation, collaboration, and the surrender of sovereignty, those ingredients that we all know and affirm are and will continue to be required for the pandemic to be brought to its heels and the earth’s climate to stabilize
· That the world’s care and ranking of the care of seniors, especially in facilities owned and operated by for-profit corporations, demonstrate a degree of indifference to those in care, and also to those providing care, that can only leave most of the rest of us appalled, yet powerless to affect the kind of substantive changes that all families require, expect and deserve.
· That the long-standing indifference of the American Republican Senators to the urgent human needs, including the needs of public education, public affordable health care, and now access to necessary nutrition, while providing trillions of dollars of tax breaks to the uber-affluent, demonstrate an example, not one that the world would benefit from emulating but one that will serve to exacerbate the growing and persistent human casualties, all of whom will wash up on the shores of the Emergency Rooms, the ICU’s, the police wrap-sheets, the drug offences, and the morgues, already filled to overflowing with victims of the pandemic.
To assess the political negligence that we see in too many governmental establishments as merely short-sightedness, however is analogous to assessing the pain of a lethal tumor as nothing more than a muscle strain. Failure to meet the basic requirements of the job of an elected official in an allegedly democratic state, while not punishable legally, nevertheless, qualifies as negligence. And for an already exhausted, anxious, depressed and dispossessed electorate, however, the job of mounting a substantive public protest, organized, funded, legally guided, co-ordinated and sustained, in such times, when it is desperately needed, seems beyond reasonable expectations.
As the world’s people face the inevitable compounding crises of the pandemic, the rise of global temperatures, in a global political theatre whose ethos and culture are dominated by private interests, dependent on and insisting on profiting from each and every public initiative, even those so desperately and immediately needed, where the short-term goals of elected officials trump the pursuit, in any avid, vigorous and effective manner, those clearly evidence long-term goals and objectives shared by every person on the planet, the hopelessness can and will only continue to fester, compounding itself, and exponentially rising, like a tide of its own making.
And yet, we can all see its inevitability, the forecasts are indisputable, the schools are only barely functioning for a generation of kids whose lives will be forever negatively impacted, through the carelessness of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
It is to these last two groups that this scribe belongs.]
And so long as there are keys to tap, and light to see to tap them, and fingers mobile enough to continue to tap them, I will continue to emit my private pray for some kind of recognition, not merely among individuals, but in families, schools, churches, businesses, universities and colleges and governments at all levels, that we can no longer tinker and tweek our situation. Those approaches were minimally useful, perhaps, in the past, except when the duration and breadth of the emergency (like the First and Second Wars) compelled immediate and sustained action. Today, however, the urgency is different: we are not facing tanks, bombs and missiles coming out of the sky. We are facing micro-virus cells swimming through the air we breath, contaminating our respiratory systems, while we are also breathing increasingly poisonous air, and depleting fresh drinking water resources. Just as importantly, however, we are being fed lies, and prevaracations, distortions and cancerous propaganda for which we have no vaccines nor antibodies, nor therapeutics.
Our complicity in our own sabotage, especially among the cultists, seems both unfathomable and suffocating. When grown, professionally trained men and women agree to become subservient to lies and personality cults, and their answer to question of fact, is to declare, “we have an alternative set of facts” then we all know that it is not only a single voice that is spewing poison. We have armies, in all countries, who are committed to their own set of alternative facts, and those “facts” do not include or even begin to tolerate a body of facts that are based in empirical science, common sense, and some degree of fairness for all.
Unless and until the tide of public discourse and political agendas turns away from being slave to the political class, to being the servant of the public good, and their actions individually and taken cumulatively, shift to embrace the legitimate needs of ordinary people in all countries, we will all continue to suffer more anxiety, depression, hopelessness and fear than is bearable. And that, of course, if precisely the state of the world that these insurrectionist cultists are driving us to. Only then will their campaign of fear and terror will be considered successful. So those of us who, never before, wrote a letter to the editor, or a letter to our elected representatives, or who never hosted a political discussion or open house, or who never before signed up for a political campaign….we all must now consider how and when to sign up…it is no longer a question of IF we will do it. WE HAVE NO OTHER OPTION!