So this local paper, this alternative press is looking for stories from the covid lockdown and I felt like I should write them something, but my urge to tell the plain truth went to war with my cheerful fortitude and so I totally choked.
I remember being ordered to shut down and suddenly finding myself locking the doors and unemployed. I remember all the closed restaurants and shuttered stores, the eerie empty streets, not even the birds singing, the way people were afraid to even leave their homes.
I remember the fear. Weeks and weeks of fear until somebody crept out in their car, alone with their windows rolled up, their mask on, as if the very air we breathe was now toxic.
I so want to tell you about all the spiritual fruit, the pearls hidden in the cesspool, the rich and varied blessings that have come from our state’s absolutely insane response to covid 19, but I also want to tell the truth, to say I have not forgotten or forgiven and that “some things once seen can never be unseen.”
I can never go back to what once was because it just isn’t there anymore.
It’s hard to describe how someone who really has no illusions, can have their illusions so shattered, but mine have absolutely pixelated. I no longer trust our healthcare system. I no longer want any medical care, ever. I no longer trust cops. I no longer trust our banking system. I no longer trust our political system. I no longer trust relationships. I no longer trust employers. I no longer trust the church.
Many of those who I always thought I could count on, completely betrayed me.
I learned that friendships can be really fickle. I learned that many people will always side with power. I learned that the sense of safety and security I had carefully cultivated was a complete illusion. I learned that people you have known your entire life, including your own family, will throw you to the wolves given half the chance.
I learned that “rat out your neighbor” and call the Governor’s hotline if you see any non compliance was a real thing, one that people would enthusiastically embrace. I learned that my dislike of cameras was justified, that people snapping photos with their cell phones in order to report you to the local health dept, was a real thing.
I learned that being a good employee, that pouring your heart and soul into some else’s business means absolutely nothing.
I learned that “science” means absolutely nothing.
I learned that “civil order” means absolutely nothing.
I learned that is surprisingly painful to be accused of wanting to kill someone’s grandma.
I learned that you can justify almost anything by labeling someone a potential murderer.
Gone is any sense of safety I may once have had.
I learned that an astounding number of people don’t take me seriously, that what I once thought was kind of a relationship based on mutual respect, was really just about humoring and dismissing me. I once thought I had a voice that at least mattered to a small circle of people.
I learned that “anti-fascist” really just means shut up, put your mask of submission on, stand on the taped X on the floor, and don’t even think about “my body, my choice.” I learned that people really are perceived as nothing more then commodities, numbers, statistics.
I learned about the power of narrative, about how the truth really doesn’t matter, about how facts have no impact on an emotional mob that just wants to confirm their own biases.
I learned of people locked down in their rooms in assisted living centers, for months on end, with no outside contact at all. I learned of people dying alone in hospitals, unable to see their loved ones. I learned of people who just broke and killed themselves. I collected horrific tales of addiction, divorce, homelessness, and children taken away. People lost their jobs, their homes, their businesses, their sobriety, their sanity.
I learned that human rights violations are a real thing in the world and that few if any, will ever speak up even when it’s happening right in front of them.
I don’t worry at all about covid, or about where we will go from here as a culture, as a civilization, I worry far more about my own heart, about my own soul’s thirst for justice, my own desire for revenge, my secret longing for some Nuremburg trials, for long prison sentences, for the righting of my world back to that place of myth and legend where the bad guys don’t always win.
I don’t want to shake hands and be friends. I don’t want to forgive and forget. I don’t want to rebuild and restore. The lessons of the past two years are too precious, too painful, too valuable to ever be laid to rest.
That is how someone who has no illusions, can have their illusions shattered, absolutely pixelated. I’m one of the lucky ones, my illusions were always tiny, hopeful but fragmented and splintered. There are others walking about who still can’t see at all, people whose illusions are so strong they are foundational to their very identity. To confront the lie I suppose, would collapse their whole psyche. Just the same, it was all a lie. We were handled, manipulated, deceived, and experimented on.
I learned all of these things and I learned that not a single one of them really has very much to do with Donald Trump, Joe Biden, or Putin, or who you vote for in the next election, or even what values you pretend to subscribe to. We really are a country of we the people and so it is we the people who are fully accountable, and it is we the people who have some serious heart work to do.