“Cause there’s no wind left in my soul and I’ve grown old.” — Roger Waters
Occasionally, you get the opportunity for a good extended metaphor. Those of us in the Gulf South know all too well what it is like to survive and recover from a storm. Funny, but we’ve been watching what we lovingly call trash television lately. It’s the usual formulaic television where an “expert” goes in to help someone get their business going again.
He has on multiple occasions compared Hurricane Sandy to Hurricane Katrina. Bless his heart. He just doesn’t know. The point here is not the real property damage and human suffering that comes out of a storm, but our collective response to the whole experience. There are really four stages to the storm that hopefully you will see parallels for.
The first stage is the preparation stage. We know the storm is coming. So, from here we all make calculated decisions. Do we stay and mitigate or do we drive inland? Will we need to board up our windows? Do we have enough emergency supplies in case we lose power. You get the idea.
The second stage is the storm itself. If you are riding it out you just hunker down and do the best you can. If you’ve gone inland there is the worry that something bad will happen to your home or someone else you know. So far, everyone is in the same boat.
The third stage is the immediate aftermath. People are still fairly unified. Neighbors help neighbors and everyone pitches in. We clean up the damage. We make repairs. We deal with insurance adjusters, contractors, and the occasional con man trying to win one over during a crisis.
It is the fourth stage that is the problem. Some people get back to normal quickly. Some people never do. Talk to any charity and they will tell you the same thing. There is an initial enthusiasm that people have when giving that just goes away. People give around Christmas and then in January those charities dry up.
Most experts have said that it takes up to two years for most people to recover from a storm. Most of us just don’t have that kind of attention span. Amidst all of the political mumbo jumbo related to the pandemic, it is this fatigue that is costing us. Of course, one can’t avoid the other connection to a storm when we talk about the eye of the storm.
I vividly remember Hurricane Alicia as a kid. The eye passed over Galveston and Houston. Briefly everything seemed fine. Then the storm raged again. We knew it would back then, so we stayed hunkered down. Sadly, the eye of the storm of COVID came and went. We were told it was over. At every turn there has been an almost desperate need to put the virus behind us.
First, it was following the first lockdowns. People wanted to get out. Then, it was the warmer weather and the thought that viruses couldn’t survive in warmer weather. Then, it was an experimental round of drugs that were being peddled like snake oil at town square. Finally, we had a vaccine and the initial rush of most people getting the jab.
At each stage, the optimism was a fool’s errand. Weeks of progress were erased by super spreader events. Politicians desperate to save the almighty economy failed to uphold common sense safety measures. Some of them (cough Dan Patrick cough) even said they were willing to make an even swap. When that didn’t go over well he shifted his blame to Democrats and black people.
Storms come and go. They wreak their havoc, cause their damage, and leave some devastated. For a brief while, we all stand up and pitch in as much as we can. Then, we lose our focus. Life interrupts even the best of intentions. Even the most dedicated of people lose their focus. Obviously, some of us are not the best.
The virus is worse than a storm. If I hunker down and practice common sense measures I can keep myself and family safe. The virus doesn’t offer that kind of guarantee. The idiots ruin it for the rest of us. They clog up the hospitals. They infect those that are trying to be careful. They keep this thing going. Fatigue is real. So is being an idiot.