• Jaime Richards

Five thoughts on living in a COVID world

1. I don't much like writing about what everyone else is writing about, but this is an unprecedented time in my life and our history.


2. About a month ago I got sick. Not terribly sick. But I've had a cough that won't go away, and the last few days I've gotten worse. Since I'm never sick this long, I wonder, Do I have it?


I doubt it, but I'd like to be certain one way or the other. I can't be, though, because I can't get tested. I wonder how many other other people are wondering, Is this a "normal," cough, cold and/or flu, or do I have the Coronavirus?


3. Just about everyone has their opinion on politics. Do we need more or less regulation? How should we be taxed? Where should tax money be spent? What laws should be enacted, amended or abolished?


Those kinds of things are open to debate, and I can understand (if not agree with) most people's differing takes on each. But what I will never get behind are the people who see no need for government. In a utopian world, where all people are altruistic, libertarianism might work.


But all people aren't altruistic. In times of crisis both the best and worst of human nature is revealed.  Ayn Rand wrote, "Great men can't be ruled." I wrote, "We don't have enough great men." Or women. So we need rules. We need order. We need government.


Not crappy government. Good government. Government at its best. But not no government. The need for good government is lost during good times. But obvious during times like now.

California's Capitol Building, Sacramento


People who say they are "against" government piss me off. That's like saying you're against food. Food is not all the same. There's great tasting food and horrid tasting food. There's super healthy food and practically poisonous food. You can be against nasty food but not food. We need food.


All food is not created equal


Same with government. You can be against bad, ineffective government, but not government. Government at its best protects us and sets an example for how to live and treat each other. Government at its worst does not.


If you don't like something about the government, work to change it. Not eliminate it. We need government and we need it to restore order during this chaos.


Note: Although anyone can have an opinion about government (or anything else) some opinions should matter more than others. Why should mine matter?


Because most of my adult life was spent working in three levels of government: federal (U.S. Air Force), state (California School for the Blind) and a local school district (Fremont Unified). And I studied and taught government for 12 years during which I had hundreds of elected officials and civil servants walk into my classroom and teach my students (and me) about what they do and why they are necessary. People are the government!


I've seen and experienced government at its best and worst, but I've never questioned its right to exist.


4.  Ditto for the media. More than ever before, there are biased, unprofessional, untrained media outlets and individuals slanting, misinterpreting and misreporting the world. But there are also heroic, seasoned, trained media professionals doing their best to provide us with vital information and offering educated takes on what's going on outside of our own limited experience.


People who complain against "the media" like everyone who's in it is the same are morons. That's like people complaining against "people" like we're all the same. Or food, like it's all the same. We're not. It's not.


Jeopardy answer: These three things come in various levels of quality and effectiveness, but all are vital to our survival.


Jeopardy question: What are the government, the media and food?


5. A hopeful and perspective-expanding note from my favorite website blogger, Maria Popova:


At least a year ahead of Coronavirus, on page 425 of her 2019-published book, Figuring, she wrote


The beauty of the natural world, the ancient kinship with our fellow beings (not just humans), and the reassurance of cosmic timescales that dwarf any momentary crisis, may have been what a terrified nation needed, but (Rachel Carson's book) Under the Sea-Wind was filtered out of the nation's attention.


Maria's point: Carson's book about how everyone and everything is connected was tragically and ironically overlooked and disregarded because just after it was released the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Instead of recognizing, cultivating and amplifying our interdependence, we killed at least 70 million humans (and who knows how many non-humans) during World War II.


My takeaway: "cosmic timescales" do in fact "dwarf any momentary crisis," and this one, too, will be dwarfed. It's only a matter of time, be it years, decades, centuries or millenniums before COVID-19 shrivels into barely a blip in the history of the universe.


In the meantime, what does our  "terrified nation" (and world) need during these lockdown times? 


Let's embrace "the beauty of the natural world." (Get outside and enjoy nature.) Love and appreciate "the ancient kinship with our fellow beings." (Pet your pet and talk to people you love, even if it has to be on Skype, FaceTime or Zoom.)

Me and Kihei enjoying the beauty of the natural world (and our ancient kinship)

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