Christmas, Aeschylus and the Coronavirus.


Rhymes with “Maxine.”

Well, hello, my dear babies.  Your favorite Planet has taken quite the sabbatical, hasn’t she?  I’ve posted only a few times this year, and then only about the Novel You-Know-What. I can barely speak its name at this point in the proceedings, so has it spun our world like a dreidel.

Yet here it is, nearly Christmas, and I’m still standing. Worse for wear, damn straight – but alive.  And that’s a miracle.  Because as of this writing, 16,671 of my fellow-Illinoisans and 322,343 of my fellow Americans can’t say that.  Hundreds of thousands of souls meeting their end through nothing more than bad luck of the draw.

This thing is such an inconceivable tragedy, on so many levels, that I believe it will take years to fully sort.  It’s left us bereft, exhausted, shell-shocked.

We can debate the government’s handling of the virus until the cows come home (or until a demented orangutan leaves the Oval Office), but to what end?  Even pols I detest (Trump, McConnell, Pelosi – oh hell, let’s just say the Trump administration and Congress in general) couldn’t have imagined something like this on their watch in their most paranoid dreams.  A pandemic as destructive as 1000 runaway trains, with  few palliatives and no cure.

While they may not have done their best – who could have? You? Certainly not me.

Rail against it all you want, parade your best conspiracy theories, but in this pandemic there is but one truth:  the virus is in control.  Not you, not me, not politicians and not the medical community. Just one microscopic little bastard that looks and acts like a land mine.

So what, then, is the lesson of 2020?

I think it’s that as we have suffered together, we have learned much.  If not about the virus, then certainly about each other.

The father of Greek Tragedy, the poet Aeschylus, gave us an apt summation, way back in 500 B.C.:

He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us, by the awful grace of God.

It is said that Robert F. Kennedy would read this passage as he cried himself to sleep after the murder of his brother, Jack.  Bobby learned well “the awful grace of God.”

And now, so have we.  After nearly a year of suffering and death, and although we have months of caution to go, we all got an early Christmas present this year.  By God and countless, selfless hours of work by the medical, scientific and manufacturing communities, we have viable COVID vaccines!

So, please, when it is your turn – take them.  We owe it to each other, in order to reach so-called herd-immunity, at which time normalcy can return.

Or perhaps just get the vaccine in honor of those hundreds of thousands for whom it came too late.

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  • Welcome back, and thanks. Well said, as ever.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Thanks, Margaret. Been one annus horribilis, as the Queen once said. Cannot wait to be vaccinated. Hope your holidays and new year are wonderful!

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