March 30, 2020
Strange to be living through a moment in a time when it is not clear who is carrying a disease that is so readily transmitted. Every day we take walks in our semi-rural, semi—suburban neighborhood, 2-3-4 miles at a time, and we are more mindful of avoiding any of the people we come up upon than of quietly observing the beauty of a spring season in its early stages. Such is the nature of mindfulness these days.
When I tell my friends my self-imposed rules about maintaining social distance and virtual isolation in the house they seem to think – or I think they think I am – being overly cautious. Yet my wife means all-to-well in constantly having to remind me about not getting too close to folks on the other side of the 12-foot wide bike path I or street.
I would feel more comfortable if I knew that at the national level we were under some proper version of a long-term plan. I do not blame President Trump for the virulence of the Corona Virus. But I do attribute to him the most noxious levels of blame and anger at the incompetence, venality, corruption, anti-science and self-serving narcissistic treatment of himself and his administration that has continually impeded some semblance of a reasonable national plan.
Therein lies the problem – the disjuncture between what we face (anonymously) and what is being presented in terms of a health care system to deal with it. And also the conviction born of years of experience with Trump directly (much more on that soon enough) that he is incapable of the most basic social gesture of aid, comfort or empathy.
And so I begin these Corona Diaries. A testament to the way in which my own life, the politics of our day and the sweep of Western history converge. It is late March 2020 and this is not what I had anticipated would be what we would be dealing with as my wife and I contemplate retirement. Instead we are scrambling to protect ourselves, our kids and grandkids and the little community we live in. And I am dealing with the sense of larger things as well – all of them in my head. Not aspirations of being some grand politicians or public intellectual – I gave up on that decades ago. Simply trying to give voice to the kinds of concerns that I suspect animate a lot of people who are disappointed if not appalled at the way life has made this strange turn and left us more or less openly ripe for the pickings, forced onto our own reserves to fend it off.