At the end of WWII the US fought a cold war. After 9/11 we fought a terrorist war. As a nation we have been fighting other human beings since the inception of our country.
With the advent of COVID-19 we have a new kind of "enemy." One that is both invisible and everywhere at once. To even call it an enemy is kind of stupid. Viruses, bacteria, and all manner of micro-organisms are part of the normal course of life on earth. We need to understand them and deal with them. Spending 1.7 trillion on nuclear weapons will get us no closer to that goal. And likewise bullets, mortar rounds, and hand grenades are just as useless.
What it does point to is the way we have been using our national resources. Something like 55% of national budget has gone to military expenditures and only 18% to health care. Of that 18% much of it goes to pay private insurers which is massively wasteful as it has insurance profit built into the cost of care. Other western industrialized nations cover their citizens for about a third of what the US spends and no one is left out.
The pandemic has revealed a massive flaw in how we approach health care. The up side is that now we are aware of the flaw -- and we have an opportunity to correct it.
Our new legislative priority, the world we seek, in the post viral pandemic era can really be summed up with one word: PREVENTION.
We have the capacity to prevent war with a robust and well staffed state department -- we need to build that department and have its focus be on peace promotion and cooperation.
We have the capacity to prevent illness with a National Health Service that is properly staffed, funded and supplied to meet the challenges of a 350 million person multinational jet set world.
The days when a virus jumps species and lands in a human population and stays in some remote village is over. The reality is that humans are all disease vectors and the world we built guarantees the spread of disease.
It is time to take our heads out of the sand and deal with reality. The time for ideologies and personalities is over.
A National Health Service is no longer an entitlement program or a give-a-way to the needy but an essential service that cuts across all lines of race, class and ethnicity. WHY? Because it does not matter if you drive a Tesla and live in the Hollywood Hills at some point a barista is going to serve you coffee who earns 8 bucks and hour and lives in working class neighborhood.
If they get sick -- you get sick too.
If they get sick -- your stock portfolio crashes.
We are all in this together ... and the sooner we realize this and put structures in place to ensure we are all taken care of the better off we will be.
On Tues, Mar 10th I felt the first inkling that something was not quite right with my neck. I shrugged it off. "It'll sort itself out, it always does -- if not I'll visit a friend who is a chiropractor."
For the vast majority of my life, my body has been invincible. I've fallen out of trees, off roofs, had horseback riding accidents and so many other situations -- and like that kids toy that you punch and it pops right up -- that was me. Shake it off ... stand up ... get on with it.
But this time was different.
The following morning came the muscle spasms, the rash, the burning pain, stiffness, headaches and a lethargy that made made me feel like a zombie for the last 10 days. Yup, I got shingles. Or more accurately, I got a wake up call that I can't burn the candle at both ends and expect my body to have the kind of resiliency to stay healthy. I don't have to use 16 hours of every 24 engaged in some kind of work.
Here is the reality: there will never be and end to my "lists" and there will be no day when magically I can declare "I did it all, its done."
The sad reality is that over the years I've turned into something of a work-a-holic. I keep a kind of religious observance of the work ethic. My shrine is my man cave. The relics are the tools. In the US, this way of being is not only raised up as some paragon of good citizenship (the hard working American lionized by the WPA), but approved of and lauded as "industrious." We are a nation of work-a-holics.
I never learned how to rest.
[sarcastically] I must congratulate myself on the timing of this illness. It powerfully aligned with COVID-19, the shutting down of Powell House and my other work obligations. It was like pressing pause on a video -- and just like that everything came to a grinding halt. One day I was laying concrete and the next I was lying in bed. Inert and motionless like a block of cement (if you lie still your skin doesn't burn as much).
Shingles does have a way of focusing the mind. When all you have is pain, the only thing you can focus on is pain. Pain becomes a COP swearing at you and ordering you around --- "HALT, DON'T DO THAT, OR THAT, AND DON'T DO THAT EITHER!" . If you don't listen to the pain messages the shingles pain cop will place you under arrest.
Since illness is an "acceptable form of idleness" I decided to use the time to reflect. Here's what has bubbled up:
And there is one last important piece of this message -- since I am the author of my story, I get to say how true it is, how good a fit it is for me, how well it is serving me --- and I get the choice to revise it any time I darn well please!
Given this POV -- context is decisive.
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