I hear things like, “Coronavirus shows how we’re all in this together. It makes us more connected as a human family.” Or, the religious version: “God wants us all to love each other more.”
I don’t agree at all. First of all, family is who you make it — and family consists of the people who have earned the title. For years, as a therapist, I have told people that, especially people who grew up (through no fault of their own) in abusive, toxic or negligent families, as many do. Just because someone else is a human being doesn’t make him or her my “family” — nor vice-versa. I want someone to earn the title, and I expect to have to earn it myself.
I do understand what some of the sentiment gets at, though. It means, in part, “Finally everyone has one goal in common — to get back to normal, to stay well and to defeat this pandemic.”
However, it’s not so simple. The people who wanted to violate my individual rights before — preventing my right to buy weapons of self-protection, denying my right to keep what I earn, impairing my right to speak my mind, thoughts and ideas on social media or elsewhere — are more in force than ever before. They are locked and loaded in their quest to shut down all dissension. They brazenly and gleefully exploit this crisis, in its early stages, far worse than I would have ever predicted.
Also, I can’t assume that everyone wants life to go back to what it was. Communists like Bernie Sanders claimed a few months ago that bread lines weren’t such a bad thing; nor were the gulags of totalitarian countries. If our economy stays closed down long enough, we will be facing bread lines, gulags or worse. The Bill of Rights has been shredded. Mayors and governors shut down gun stores, the Governor of Ohio ignores court orders and the Governor of Rhode Island seizes people on the street without a warrant or any due process at all. This goes beyond what the British did to early Americans. Most of us are taking it like sheep. It seems, for now at least, we’re getting what people like Bernie Sanders wanted, without having to vote him into office. And regular Democrats want President Trump defeated no matter what. They are counting on a prolonged shutdown to ensure his defeat.
So I don’t think they want the same things I want. Not at all. This crisis has brought that sad reality home more, not less.
Life isn’t supposed to be about suffering. Suffering is not the goal. Peace and prosperity are the best things for a benevolent world. The fewer people suffer, and the more choices they have, the better off “the human family” will be. Catastrophe and disaster are not good for anyone. I realize this disaster may be good for the careers of politicians and other people who cash in on human suffering. But none of this is good for real people.
That’s why I reject the prevailing cliches of the moment.