In Voltaire’s, “Candide” the titular character is brought up to believe that this is the best of all possible worlds and that everything that happens in it is for the best, and after barely surviving all sorts of terrible situations and painful disillusionment finally settles down with the love of his life to live a quiet life and to “tend to the garden”. As we deal with this most recent plague and the plague mentality, there seem to be more and more articles written about the “new normal” let us think about what that would look like. This may have refocused our attention on the things that truly matter in “tending to our garden”. Perhaps we should give as much attention and dignity to the grocery store workers, cleaners and minimum wage workers who keep us going rather than the social media influencer, talking heads and pundits whose aim seems to be stirring up either controversy or profit for someone else’s gain. Where the purpose of businesses are to produce a product, not only a profit. Maybe its time to measure people by the contents of their hearts rather than the contents of their wallets. Where 30% of American workers make less than $10.10 per hour creating an income below the federal poverty level. Lets not return to a normal where the richest 0.1% take in 196 times as much as bottom 90%. We now have an opportunity to return to a place we have never been before, to look beyond what we have been to what we can be. It’s time to tend to the garden, take care of each other no matter our color or belief, Time to make this best of all possible economic systems work for everyone and turn our world into an isle of dreams.
As I read the recent New York Times article, “Economic Pain Will Persist Long After Lockdowns End” I found myself thinking of a song, “You Need Us” by one of my favorite TV bands, The Honeybees….In short the article details how the recent plague has effected the economy, which segments and how they might recover. However a glance at the stock market seems to have shrugged this recent unpleasantness off and is ready to resume its bullish bacchanal it makes one wonder where the true reality lies. Nearly 1/3rd of the country can be without a paycheck but why be concerned. While unemployment soars so does the Dow Jones. While we close many businesses as non essential, it begs the question, what is essential to this new economy. With the possibility of robots and drones doing many “essential” features how long will we need the rest of the work force. Will this virus’s relocation of assets also reassign much of our workforce to obscurity? Will most of us still be needed?
It seems that at one point you become a curator for others. You maintain a well lit place for others to come back to, to recover and to leave, refreshed and renewed. In this modern mid plague world this seems to be more important than ever. That we have a place to retreat to, a home, a tall parapet where we can gaze out upon the world, be it real or electronic. Some of us will be the curators of those spaces for our children, lovers, siblings or friends. That space too, may be physical or electronic, a home, or a website or a shared place to chat. As you keep your social media account, please use it as a place for light, there are enough people flinging mud or useless gripes. More light, please. As John Donne once said, They also serve who stand and wait,” we also serve who maintain a light in the darkness, a warm hearth and an open heart, we also serve. May we all be blessed, those who keep the light burning in the darkness and those who stay awake, in the dark, looking for the light- know the morning will come.
There is a song with the lyric, “everything old is new again”. With that in mind, the post of a few weeks ago seems strangely relevant. In the post, The Perfect Consumer, we proposed, with tongue firmly in cheek that this current plague might be the perfect way for asset reassignment, with old people dying off to create more housing for younger people, freeing up assets they would use such as health care and benefits pent up there for revitalizing the economy and for the greater good. Well, in saying of Karl Marx, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce”, what seems to have started as a tragedy now has become farce. While we joked about a silver lining in this rising, though still small, death toll, others leap to similar conclusions wrapped in a shroud of truth. Once respected commentator, Britt Hume opined, that it was entirely reasonable that the elderly would want to die to save the economy and that perhaps we should override DNR’s (do not resuscitate) orders on the dying as to keep the resources available for those still alive. One can only wonder if such precautions would be taken if the thrust of the pandemic were the working poor or minorities. Alas, we have wars and drafts to take care of that issue. Perhaps that is a plague for another time.