Purblind

Our enlightened president recently noted that if we had fewer carona virus tests there would be fewer cases. Now we know (he has told us) he is the smartest man on the planet, but this is close to the stupidity he evidenced when he recommended that we drink Clorox.

The notion that if we don’t test there will be fewer cases rests on the absurd assumption that if we don’t see it then it isn’t there. I honestly think this man actually believes this. He is nothing if not sincere.

But this is delusional. There are facts and there are realities and no amount of strong belief can change those things. I cannot fly unassisted and I will not live forever. I don’t want to believe these things, but that doesn’t alter the facts.

I don’t want to join the parade of president-haters. It’s too exhausting and not very productive. Life is too short and attention to what the man is doing on a daily basis is certain to shorten my life which is already approaching its end. But I do believe that as a trained philosopher I have a responsibility to point out that what we want to be the case is rarely, if ever, what is the case. It’s an epistemological truth: facts exist independent of thought. And truth is a correspondence between what we believe and what is the case, independent of us. As much as I want the virus to be over I still realize that it is still killing people and as an old fart with a disease I am smack in the middle of the target demographic (as they say).

This is why I get so worked up when I see the delusional people going about their business as though the virus is over. Business demands that sports return as soon as possible, so the various billionaires who own the professional sports teams fall all over themselves trying to make it happen — as do college presidents. The colleges are even considering going ahead with collegiate football even if there are no students in the stands. Billions of dollars are at stake. There is even talk about holding the motorcycle rallies in Sturgis, South Dakota again this Summer because it is a celebratory year. So thousands of folks from around the country will gather there for a few days of fun and fames and then leave and take away with them hundreds of cases of the virus they can spread back home.

What we have here is a failure to communicate, as Strother Martin once said. There are a great many people out there who simply refuse to believe what they are told — even by experts with no axe to grind. So we open things up and express our surprise that folks are getting sick again. The numbers rise and we ignore the facts because we don’t want to believe them.

I have said it before, many times, and I will say it again. America is living in the Age of Entitlement when children are told they are terrific even when their work simply doesn’t measure up and all are supposed to succeed even though this empties the word of all meaning: when all succeed, none succeed. Thus do we refuse to recognize true excellence when it stands before us. Since they were very young the children of this country have been told they can walk on water by their parents and teachers. They grow up and, being unused to anyone saying “no,” they don’t hear the word — or see the writing on the wall. They cannot walk on water. Sorry about that.

Whether we like it or not, this virus has not gone away. It still sickens and kills and we need to remind ourselves that what we want to be the case may not be the case at all. In a word: for the first time in our lives, we may have to do something don’t want to do.

And we are demonstrating that we can’t handle that message very well. This does not bode well.

 

 

Whatever

I was sitting in my car in the Hy Vee parking lot waiting for my wife to return with the groceries. I was following my oncologist’s orders as I am particularly susceptible to the virus because of the cancer treatment I am undergoing. Apparently my immune system is being weakened by the infusions of radioactive fluid they are pumping into my system and which will do battle with the cancer cells. Hopefully the infusions will win the day. (I do wonder if those who doubt the veracity of science have ever had to entrust their lives to medical science.)

In any event, to while away the minutes I did an informal sociological study, checking to see how many of the customers going in and out were wearing their masks. It was about 50%, which I find disappointing — but not surprising. In the course of this study, two young women (in their 20s?) emerged from the store with their cart, stood in front of the sign telling everyone “one person per cart,” meandered off to their “muscle car” (as we used to call them) and loaded the car before taking off. Neither of them had a mask, of course. Apparently rules are for everyone else.

Soon after a very old woman emerged with a small cart which pretty much held her up as she walked very slowly to her van parked in the handicapped space reserved for older farts like her — and myself. She did have a mask, but she was also painfully slow of movement. After opening up the rear-end of her vehicle and unloading her small packages she stood there holding on to the cart and wondering where to put it. Soon a young man came along (with no mask) and she called him over and asked him to take her cart, which he did. That was nice of him.

The woman then struggled to climb into her van and sat there for at least three or four minutes adjusting things so she would be comfortable as she was driving the vehicle. After that time the door closed and she backed slowly out of her space and very slowly put the car into drive and crept out of the parking lot. She must have been well into her 90s.

And she still drives. Isn’t it wonderful?