There was a very cautious man,
Who never laughed or played,
He never risked, he never tried,
He never sang or prayed,
And when one day he passed away,
His insurance was denied,
For since he never really lived,
They claimed he never really died.
What is the meaning of life? Only God Himself knows, so I am not going to attempt to answer this question. However, we can say with absolute certitude that the meaning of life is not about keeping you safe from any and all potential risks.
Just in case you live in a lead mine or North Korea or wherever, there’s a virus going around. These things happen once every few years. None of them are any good. This one is probably worse than some and undoubtedly not as bad as others. However, the powers that be have used this particular virus as an excuse to carry out what I’ll call a Flu D’etat – a destruction of massive amounts personal liberty and of so many things that bring joy in life in the name of keeping us safe.
One of my favorite movie scenes of all-time is in the film Dead Poets Society. John Keating, an English teacher at a boarding school, deftly portrayed by Robin Williams, asks his students to huddle up and explains the importance of poetry.
“We don’t just read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering … these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But beauty, poetry, romance, love … these are the things we stay alive FOR!”
“To quote from Whitman:”
“Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
… What good amid these, O me, O life?”
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse!”
“What will your verse be?”
To be sure, the life of an amoeba or a termite or a dung beetle is about nothing more than mere biological survival. Human life, however, is about much more. We incarcerate people as punishment for crimes they have committed. Yes, they are allowed to survive physically, but they are denied liberty and the so many avenues by which to pursue happiness, which are what we stay alive for.
In March, the powers that be urged us not to gather in groups of more than ten. This represented a fundamental transformation of American life beyond Obama’s wildest imaginings. (Trump was very much a part of this. And, yes, he played a yuuuge part in fanning the flames of fear.)
When Jared “Pol Pot” Polis, the governor of Colorado, where I live, decreed this, my first question was if this would include church, weddings and funerals. Sure enough, it would!
We may be able to survive for a short time in solitude. But to prolong this is to recklessly disregard what sets human beings apart from every other life form. We are designed by God – or, for you secular humanists, nature – to be in community with other human beings. Talking on the phone, watching YouTube or having Zoom parties simply does not fulfill this need. These are wonderful and immeasurably valuable technologies, but their capacity is limited.
Jonathan Sumption, a former British Supreme Court judge recently wrote:
“What sort of life do we think we are protecting? There is more to life than the avoidance of death. Life is a drink with friends. Life is a crowded football match or a live concert. Life is a family celebration with children and grandchildren. Life is companionship, an arm around one’s back, laughter or tears shared at less than two meters. These things are not just optional extras. They are life itself. They are fundamental to our humanity, to our existence as social beings. Of course, death is permanent, whereas joy may be temporarily suspended. But the force of that point depends on how temporary it really is.”
And please, in the name of all that is sacred and much that is profane, spare me your money-over-lives sanctimony. The economic shutdown is…not…saving…lives!
And the recent caterwauling about face masks isn’t prolonging life either. In early March, when the vise grip was tightening on so many of our civil and economic liberties, no one was cracking a whip on anyone about face masks. Science didn’t change in 90 days. It was all just a propaganda ploy to see how many people would unquestioningly obey. That number is depressingly high. What hoop will they jump through next?
(By the way, I am not judging you if wearing a mask gives you peace of mind. The trouble begins when you want to mandate a mask for all of society.)
Perhaps the saddest part of the whole Flu D’Etat is that so many people not only do not realize they are being tyrannized, but that they gleefully celebrate every new wave of tyranny.
But it’s to keep you safe, they proclaim. All tyranny is implemented in the name of some Higher Good, be it fighting drugs, poverty or climate change, thwarting terrorism, or For The People or Juche or la revolucion or Das Volk or whatever. Indeed, our entire contemporary philosophy of government may be summarized in six words: If it sounds good, do it!
John Keating in Dead Poets Society illustrated education at its noblest. The CDC’s recommendations for reopening schools this fall illustrate schooling at its worst. Yes, these are recommendations and not laws. However, what do the following tell children?
- Requiring masks for children over the age of 2.
- No sharing of any items or supplies; all belongings in individual cubbies or labeled containers; no sharing electronic devices, toys, games, learning aids.
- Desks 6 feet apart, all facing the same way.
- Social distancing on school buses, i.e. one child per seat, skip rows.
- Install sneeze guards and partitions wherever you cannot space 6 feet apart.
- One way routes in hallways; tape on sidewalks and walls to assure kids stay 6 feet apart.
- No communal shared spaces – cafeterias, playgrounds.
- Physical barriers or screens between sinks in bathrooms.
- Only pre-packages boxes or bags of food instead of cafeteria food; kids eat in classrooms.
- No field trips, assemblies, or external organizations in the schools. Limit volunteers and visitors.
- Children stay with the same staff members all day. No switching groups, or teachers.
- Stagger arrival and departure times for students to limit exposure to crowds of kids.
- If possible, daily health and temperature checks.
- And there are several more rules about cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day and handwashing frequently.
Schools in North Korea have more flexibility. You can read this document in detail here on pages 40-46.
This is a reckless attempt to re-engineer human nature. Che Guevara spoke of a New Socialist Man. Think of this as a Post-COVID Man, whose entire existence is reduced to the avoidance of COVID. Just think of it as avoidance Uber Alles.
Yes, government schools were already an unholy mess. However, you did children no favors whatsoever when you yanked them out of the environments to which they were accustomed and isolated them from companionship and play with their friends. And do you want children to group up in constant fear of taking even the slightest risk?
And it is worth noting that the COVID fatality rate for Americans under 15 is one in several million. But reality doesn’t matter here. Nothing matters except the triumphant march to the New Post-COVID Dawn.
Believe it or not, I am going to end on a positive note. Good things will come from this episode. A whole new wave of parents will remove their children from government schools. There will be a new wave of awareness about personal responsibility for one’s health with a special focus on immunity, which is really quite simple. And there will be a whole new generation of entrepreneurs because millions of traditional jobs have vanished because of the economic crash.
The great play will inevitably go on.
And you, reader, have the opportunity to contribute a verse.
What will your verse be?
I’ll just leave this here. It’s almost as if people WANT this to be the next bubonic plague.