The War at Home
It’s really difficult to take it all in.
Not just the 340,146 deaths. All of it.
There was a news story making the rounds that the covid toll is so high now, it’s beyond human comprehension. This has not been a problem for us. We check the numbers every day.
Time was, not so long ago, that a typical weekday might see a thousand or fifteen hundred new corpses on the books. Lately, more like three thousand. One recent day the number jumped by more than four thousand.
Not hard to comprehend at all.
Only you don’t hear about it, or only in passing. If you’re not checking the numbers every day, only the milestones come to your attention. The last number most people heard was probably three hundred grand. That’s what makes it hard to understand. It’s all at once.
What’s more difficult to take in are the consequences of it all. The effect on families. The effect on hospitals and their staffs. The effects on businesses that cater to our social nature. The effect of a ruling party and its millions of cultists who have made things much, much worse than they needed to be.
We could have dealt with this. We could have gotten through this. A significant number of us chose to deny it instead.
And here we are.
And we’re not done, either. As we write Sunday morning, a relief bill that wouldn’t do enough but at least does something remains in limbo because The President of the United States decided he wasn’t getting enough attention in his remaining days. Maybe he’ll sign it yet, maybe his demands will be met and he’ll sign that, but all hell — well, even more hell — is about to break loose if he doesn’t. Mass evictions. Meager unemployment benefits running out. Resources to distribute the vaccines he wants to take credit for (after repeatedly not buying enough) running dry.
That’s what’s hard to take in.
We started this year worried about a ginned-up war with Iran. We ended up with a far more destructive war at home, a war not waged by a virus but by our own government and millions of fellow citizens. It’s hard to take in because it’s like a neutron bomb, lives destroyed but buildings left standing. We lack a visual, instead relying on one anecdote after another to suggest many more we don’t hear about.
We ran this image four years ago, on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. “Now I Am Become Death, The Destroyer of Worlds,” we titled it. It was satirical, over the top.
Or so we hoped. As much as we feared, little did we know.