Saturday, March 28, 2020

David Brooks explains the brighter side of pandemic

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

Grim times indeed – the rich are forced to cruise through the Grenadines on their 100-foot yachts all by themselves,

the middle class is bored and antsy cooped up in their houses, the working class is desperately afraid they will not be able to pay their rent or mortgage next month, and the undocumented and others in the underclass are being left to die.

What can be said to ease these plights?  From where will our help come?  We don't know, but we sure af know where it's not coming from:

Yup, ol' Complete National Disgrace has put down his sopprassata sub to mansplain the upside of pandemic: “We’ll look back on this as one of the most meaningful periods of our lives.”

Feel better yet?

Read on:

The menace may be subhuman or superhuman, but we all have the option of asserting our own dignity, even to the end.

 I’d add one other source of meaning. It’s the story we tell about this moment. It’s the way we tie our moment of suffering to a larger narrative of redemption. It’s the way we then go out and stubbornly live out that story. The plague today is an invisible monster, but it gives birth to a better world. 

So if you're laboring on the front lines in overwhelmed hospital emergency rooms and ICU's, worried about your own survival due to lack of protective gear or the imminent prospect of deciding who shall get scarce ventilators and who shall die, you can take comfort in asserting your own dignity, even to the end.

And if you've been laid off, or because you can only work off the books you've been cut off by the affluent people for whom you worked as a cleaner or nanny, as you slowly starve in your apartments (unless you are evicted first, in which case you can die in the streets), you'll no doubt be pleased to learn that you are giving birth to a better world.  You won't be in it, but it will be better, promises Moral Mountain Dave.

There's no shortage of glad tidings, he says:

In this way the plague demands that we address our problems in ways we weren’t forced to before. 

The plague brings forth our creativity. It’s during economic and social depressions that the great organizations of the future are spawned. Already, there’s a new energy coming into the world. The paradigmatic image of this crisis is all those online images of people finding ways to sing and dance together across distance. 

The bright side of pandemic,
according to the ol' Perfesser
When you look at it with the moral clarity that only the ol' Perfesser can bring, the needless death and suffering caused by President U Bum's botched response to the pandemic is a lot like slavery.  Sure, millions suffered and died due to the evil perpetrated by a white elite, but the tunes were great!

But the good news doesn't stop there. People aren't just talking about what they're watching on Netflix or Instagramming their dinners anymore.  Instead,

There’s a new introspection coming into the world, as well. Everybody I talk to these days seems eager to have deeper conversations and ask more fundamental questions: Are you ready to die? If your lungs filled with fluid a week from Tuesday would you be content with the life you’ve lived? 

Or would you always regret not leaving your wife for your fruity research assistant?

Now that you're feeling better about pandemic in a time when our democratic institutions are close to collapse due to the Trumpublican attack on every small-r republican norm, including the rule of law, may we offer a modest retort?

Meaning isn't like gravy: you can't ladle it over whatever's on your plate and declare the result delicious.

Meaning has to have – meaning.  Among the things that might give meaning to life before, during and after pandemic would be taking action to heal and repair the world, which Jews (like Complete National Disgrace Brooks used to be) are supposed to pursue.

To put a finer point on it, of what value are navel-gazing conversations about your own life when there is so much work to be done?  Hundreds of millions are suffering, not just from disease, but from generations of cruel Randian exultation of greed and bigotry.  The current pandemic highlights the imperative moral and practical necessity of providing health care for all, whether they can afford to pay for it or not.

But even before coronavirus, millions sickened and died in agony because they could not afford life-saving medical treatment, or the preventive care that would have avoided the fatal crisis.  And for generations, Republicans staunchly opposed national health insurance on the grounds that it was, in the words of St. Ronald of Bitburg, an intolerable assault on “liberty.”

In case you were wondering, those Republicans included the apparatchiks and mouthpieces in the administration of Mission Accomplished Bush, before they emerged as cable television stars and all around moral savants.

Other plausible ways to add meaning to the current regimen of Netflix and sweat pants would be to remember the suffering caused by racism and misogyny, and to struggle to end those plagues and remedy their effects.  Oh, and which political party exalts those vices every day from the White House Briefing Room?  Take a bow, President China Virus and his sycophantic chorus of enablers and taint-washers.

Speaking of meaning, we are all too distracted to remember, but our planet faces a grave danger from uncontrolled global warming and its associated climate changes and weather catastrophes.  And who's been opposing effective action to save the planet for decades?  Hint: rhymes with Zepublicans.

One way to give your life meaning, evident to all but Moral Mountain Brooks, is to fight to your literal last gasp against those forces that have lead to so much unnecessary suffering and death and continue to imperil our democracy.  But the ol' Perfesser can't or won't grasp that point because to do so after shilling for Republicans and their false values for decades might suggest to him that his entire professional life has lacked – meaning.

But don't say that CND Brooks's twaddle is good for nothing.  Although our local supermarket is generally well stocked, it continues to run short of toilet paper.  And if you subscribe to the paper edition of The New York Times, you should know that if you're down to the cardboard tube at the end of the roll, the Editorial Page on which Brooks's column appears makes a perfectly usable substitute.

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