I watch faces through windshields. I suppose it is a habit I picked up back in the 1960’s, when hitchhiking was a form of public transport. I’d scrutinize faces within approaching cars to see if they showed any sign of mercy. Sometimes I could achieve a split second of eye-contact, and felt that made the difference between a car stopping or passing me by. Now I do it to see if a person is waving, in which case I wave back, even if I’m not sure who it is. (I live in a small town, and kids I coached in little league a quarter century ago now have graying temples, and I can’t recognize them), (beyond returning a wave.)
The last three months, since the “corona virus crisis” began, I’ve seen a change in the faces in passing cars.
At first people largely looked excited: At first I witnessed some worried, but most looked as if they were enjoying a “snow day” and enjoying a break from hard work. Then only something like ten people in town actually caught the virus, and nobody died (that I heard of, though some may have had elders in far-away old-age-homes pass away.) After that reality set in, then faces gradually began to change. Last week I told my wife, “I get the feeling people aren’t going to put up with this bullshit much longer.”
At first I think people felt they were doing something noble by staying home, for it kept the hospitals from being overwhelmed. That succeeded, for the hospitals weren’t overwhelmed, and then people felt we could get back to normal. When petty politicians refused to relinquish their power as tin-pot dictators, and things didn’t revert to normal, people’s faces began to change.
There were also murmurings at the local market, but I couldn’t attend to various conspiracy-theories as much as I’d like. I am always busy at my Farm-Childcare in the spring, both with planting and with rambunctious, spring-fevered children, and this spring’s derangement of the local economy made things harder. At first we had too much staff as children were kept home, and then we had too many children as some staff stayed home even though all the kids came back. However I did hear some local-market-theorists propose that the very reality of the virus as a National Danger was “Fake News” which fooled even President Trump, and the virus was actually quite ordinary, but used as part of a nefarious plot to destroy the economy and keep President Trump from being reelected.
If it was such a plot, it proved we are a nation of kind people willing to sacrifice. The danger of such conspiracy-theories is that they tend to blame people for natural disasters; in the middle ages they blamed Jews for the Bubonic plague.
I was then glad I wasn’t young, for I wouldn’t have handled being pent up in “self isolation” well. Spring used to make me more deranged than it now does. In fact my “senior summer” was one of the wildest times of my life, (and I thank God I survived). However the teenagers in my town, this year, did not seem unusually disturbed, perhaps because they lived in the country. They could “socially distance” hiking and fishing and roaming the fields. They didn’t have to play hooky from school to blow off steam rambling (as I once did). Also they faced less stress in school, facing “finals”, for they were able to take such tests under less pressure “on line”. They conducted their senior year vandalism (painting their names on the streets) with humor and some art, and I was glad to see it. (Indeed such graffiti has become such a town-tradition that it is only still illegal because making it legal would spoil the fun, for both the teenagers and the police.) Instead, it was the older people who looked increasingly stressed and even angry, as I peered through windshields as they drove by.
I am sure it was not so easy for other teenagers, in far away cities and suburbs, who had sand dumped into their skateboard parks, and the hoops taken down in their basketball courts, in the name of “social distancing”. I had a sort of sense a bomb was going to go off, which was why I made my comment to my wife.
Therefore I was not surprised when things exploded. I could go on at length, but received a link to a piece by a conservative called John Nolte, who sardonically and bitterly expresses what politicians have done to our young, far better than I could:
Meanwhile, among the murmurers at the local market, there is talk that the riots were orchestrated to bring down President Trump. I can’t entirely scoff, (for so much “Fake News” has had exactly that aim), and also I receive links to proof of odd “coincidences”, (such as pallets of bricks delivered to city sidewalks where no construction was going on, just before the riots began).
The local-market-murmurers mutter the “Swamp” of “Washington Elite” is getting desperate, because FBI big-shots are facing repercussions, regarding the “Russian Hoax”, and the threat posed by such investigations endanger the secure livelihoods of many wealthy “Swamp Creatures”, and therefore they are willing to bring the nation to the brink of Civil War to keep President Trump from “Draining The Swamp.”
I instinctively veer away from such conspiracy theories, if only because I doubt politicians are capable of such coordination. (Whatever they attempt seems to wind up utterly screwed up.) However I have to confess I haven’t felt this way since the riots in Chicago during the 1968 Democrat convention. Now, as then, “The Whole World Is Watching.”
Authority took too much control with the virus, but authority is afraid to take control with the rioters. In Proverbs, the authoritarian King Salomon states,
“When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.”
But what can an old geezer like me do? I wear no crown nor badge. I run a Farm-Childcare, and the only rioters I control are four-years-old.
I do what I’ve always done, which is to enact the survivalist strategy of planning for the markets be empty next fall. I attempt to grow enough food to keep myself and my wife alive, and cut enough firewood to keep us warm next winter. Usually folk laugh at me, and deem me an old crank who has been preparing for The End Of The World every spring for going on fifty years.
Funny thing is, this year fewer laugh at me, and I’ve had a hard time finding baby chicks for my Farm-Childcare. I even had a hard time finding seeds for butternut squash. Apparently more people are gardening. Perhaps it is only only because the virus-restrictions allow people time to garden, but perhaps I’m not the only one worried that the shelves in the market may be empty of more than toilet paper, come next autumn.
In the end, should we stumble into the monstrous stupidity of Civil War, all that a small person can do it be on the side of Love. Be a peaceful demonstrator and not a violent one. Love neighbors and don’t hate. Give, and don’t loot. Sustain justice, rather than enact injustice. Even if, in the short term, you lose, in the longer term you please God, and in the end that is best.