Thoughts and prayers
Today, my pandemic penses turns to that notorious American affectation in times of crisis—thoughts and prayers. Americans love to send out their thoughts and prayers when things go bad, at 9/11, or Katrina, floods and tornadoes, and, oh yes, let’s not forget that staple of American crisis, gun slaughter.
But have you noticed that there aren’t too many thoughts and prayers being sent out in the coronavirus pandemic. The usual clerical types are not appearing at podia to offer their intercession with their respective Great Sky Fairies, bracketing spokespersons for the National administration of self -interest and ineptitude, and daily recitations of grim statistics.
This is a tough one for the thoughts and prayers types. Wars (sorry Mr. “war president,” this ain’t a war), terrorist incidents, even geologic events in bad weather, can be put down to bad behavior and bad luck, and seem almost made for sentiments of thoughts and prayers. But a suffocating virus, a sneaky little bastard pathogen that won’t even show its face, that might even be lurking on that package of sanitary wipes, or one of that six dozen rolls of toilet paper you grabbed because you—ahem—did not give a shit about your neighbor, that it Is a fucking “act of God”! So, scrubbing your hands for two choruses of “Happy birthday” (Dies Irae would be more appropriate) to slap them together and supplicate the author of such a nasty plague seems almost silly.
If, as the thoughts and prayers types are likely to hold, “everything happens for a reason,” this presents a bit of a logic problem because it’s got to be the Sky Fairie’s reason. (Yes, I am aware that Trumpian conspiracy theorists are making a compelling case that Nancy Pelosi concocted the virus with her baked ziti). In past pandemics, the thoughts and prayers folk always manage to come up with some sort of sinfulness or breaking of covenant as cost for a divine reset. But the real sins that are being committed are by those greedy and inapt politicians who are supposed to be concerned with our health and safety, and tell us that we are in their thoughts and prayers.
No, the closest we should get to thoughts and prayers are 10 new (practical) Commandments:
- Stay home
- Wash your hands, a lot*
- Keep your distance from strangers
- Maintain spatial, but not social, distance from friends
- Quarantine yourself if you experience any symptoms (good luck if you’re going to try to get tested)
- Keep distance from family members if you or they are symptomatic
- Wear a mask
- Don’t waste time praying (you will need it trying to order stuff online)
- Don’t listen to anything that mendacious assholes Trump, Pence or Kushner have to say
- Read a good book (preferably one by Sebastian Gerard).
*Sing two choruses of the Dies Irae (preferably in Latin) while washing