Было время, процветала
В мире наша сторона:
В воскресение бывала
Церковь божия полна;
Наших деток в шумной школе
И сверкали в светлом поле
Серп и быстрая коса.
Ныне церковь опустела;
Школа глухо заперта;
Нива праздно перезрела;
Роща темная пуста;
И селенье, как жилище
Погорелое, стоит, —
Тихо все. Одно кладбище
Не пустеет, не молчит.
There was a time when our town
Prospered in the world.
On Sundays, back in the day,
Our church used to be full.
The voices of our children
Rang out in the noisy school.
And in our bright fields flashed
The sickle and the quick scythe.
Now our church is empty.
The silent school is locked up.
The over-ripe grain lies ungathered.
The dark glade is empty.
And our town, like a burned-out
Home, stands empty.
Everything is quiet. Only the cemetery
Is not quiet, and is not empty.
(Alexander Pushkin, “A Feast During Plague Time“, from the short plays)
Today I have this op-ed by pundit Petr Akopov, one of the chief editors of the VZGLIAD newspaper. Akopov isn’t really my cup of tea, ideologically speaking, he is very religious, somewhat mystical (in my opinion), and politically very conservative. I think that he thinks that the answer to every human problem is MORE GOD. God, for his part, is keeping his discrete distance, as always; and most likely has washed his hands of humanity. (Get it! haha)
However, in this piece Akopov makes a couple of interesting points about the Covid-19 epidemic and the reaction of people around the globe. When he talks about Westies and their sense of utter herd-like panic, he is spot-on. I live in the U.S., and I can confirm a lot of his negative talking points about how Americans, for example, think, and react, to this sort of crisis. (And don’t even get me started about the empty shelves in the supermarkets and the crusty neighborhood types stumbling around carrying their avoskas and trying to score some rare roll of toilet paper — almost like a cruel parody of Soviet life in the 1970’s!) (P.S. – about those avoskas, the American version predated the Coronavirus crisis by a few months, as state after state began to control the use of one-time-use plastic bags; that was actually a good thing, for the environment, at least.)
Anyhow, before dropping the mic, or turning it over to Akopov, I would just like to quote American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who uttered the wise words: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
The fuller quote is: “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Which words ring truer now, then ever before. I mean, we’re human beings, right? As a species, we have survived far worse things than this silly piker of a virus.
The Great Terror
Akopov: Fear is one of the main human instincts, both at an individual as well as a social level. The fear of dying is one of the most fundamental fears. But what we have observed in recent times in the modern history of mankind. A panicked population empties the shelves of stores and gears itself for horrendous trials and tribulations. Governments are so frightened by the Coronavirus pandemic, that they isolate themselves from each other, disrupt transport, close the schools and factories, place entire cities and provinces into quarantine, introduce martial law, and forbid people to go out on the streets. The fact that all of this might just collapse the world economy, or become the final straw of the global economic-financial crisis, does not seem to give them pause.
What is everybody so afraid of? A pandemic which, in the course of 3 months, has killed around 10,000 people (primarily in China and Europe), and infected around 200,000? Given the danger of the virus, the measures taken are clearly inadequate; all the more so, taking into account, that by the time people started isolating themselves from each other, the virus already had time to escape from China and cover the entire world.
It is understandable that people were terrified to watch, as the Chinese authorities took extraordinary measures. Measures which, as it turned out, helped China in the final analysis, shut off the virus at the very epicenter of its birth. But the strict quarantine of the cities and provinces, the empty streets of Beijing, and the growing numbers of the dead — all of this psychologically prepared the West for the Fear; and yet Europeans and Americans did not start to truly panic, until it became clear to them, that they too were starting to get infected, and die. The number of actual deaths was not important here, the only important thing is that something unexpected had landed on this planet.
What unexpected thing? The Coronavirus? No — just the End of the World! Which everybody fears, not just in the de-Christianized Old World, which has forgotten Christ; but also in the New World which expects His Second Coming every day. A certain infernal threat, an inexplicable illness that infects and kills. From which one must guard and protect oneself by any means necessary: By hiding away, trying to find medicines, preparing oneself for the worst….
yalensis rant: This bit rings true to me. In the workplace, I have witnessed otherwise rational people rubbing their hands with Purell over and over again, even though there is a sink nearby, with soap and water. As if people think the Purell is some kind of magic elixir that will keep the Virus at bay. Not unlike medieval people hanging garlic on their chest to ward off the plague… [and there might have been a rational core in that practice, as well, who knows…]; or the scores of people flooding the supermarkets and Dollar Stores to buy cleaning supplies, as if they only recently realized that keeping a clean house is a good thing; or perhaps out of some superstitious feeling that the mere fact of owning bleach, will keep the Virus away. Panic buying is a prime example of the Herd Mentality at work… Not that washing one’s hands or cleaning one’s house is a bad thing — no, it’s a good thing — it’s just that people should have been doing this all along…
[to be continued]