Letters

Can we go on without you, COVID-19?

Dear COVID-19,

In the past 6 months, you prevented me (and possibly others) from taking the easy road. You showing up on everyone’s doorstep has been one of the most humbling and strangely liberating experiences of my life. The concerns about my possible new career path subsided. I even found the energy to pick up gardening as a new hobby (odd choice for a city boy with ophidiophobia and no gardening skills). Nevertheless, after 23 days in quarantine, my mind stopped playing tricks on me. The screams, from the voices in my head, became less rowdy, and our conversations even started to sound empathetic (or organic, depending on how you look at it). Dialogues about growth, inner peace, and self-awareness entertain me, as I try to earn my official Dr.-green-thumb-certificate in the garden of my in-laws. Truth be told, before you arrived, most of us (including me) lived too fast. Always worrying about what’s further up ahead, ignoring that which was right in front of us. How did you know that we needed to start living slower? It amazes me that you succeeded because humans are experts in ignoring the writing on the wall. Needless to say, it was a brilliant move to send us to our rooms and not allowing us to go out. You are right, we need to think about everything we did wrong throughout eons of stupidity.

Thanks to you, I even found the time to open my web-shop this weekend (Drums, please!). My stickers that turn simple buttons into imaginary reset buttons are for sale now. It is the best I could come up with to inspire people to take a moment and think about their lives. Perhaps even consider the bigger picture and their possible impact on it all. I can only dream of reaching as many souls as you did. Though I am proud that my result will be less lethal than your drastic approach. Albeit, my stickers will be less effective in the long run. Last weekend, I wanted to indulge in some shameless self-promotion. However, the lack of toilet paper required me to be more creative and, in turn, has given me some clarity. These confusing times need something different. Something more profound and heartfelt. That’s where this custom-made fan-letter comes into play. Today is as good a day as any to put the art of writing letters back on the radar of our fellow wandering humans. So, here I sit, writing this letter to your enveloped code that can wipe out someone very dear to me, anywhere, anytime you’d like.

“Information is not knowledge.”

Albert Einstein

The media and our politicians are still too busy sprinkling dust in our eyes, sharing half-truths, while you indifferently embrace the whole world. Many of those in power are despairingly filling their pockets with gold, till the very last minute, while you are on a solemn quest. A mission to prevent us from annihilating our civilization and our planet (whose fate is intertwined with ours). Preventing another mass-extinction that threatens every species on this planet. Sitting behind this digital window to the world, typing aimlessly in my bathrobe, I salute thee. The tiniest embodiment of Ying and Yang. It has been brought to our attention that you are a virus. By definition, you are an infectious agent that typically consists of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat. Others might describe you like a piece of code that is capable of copying itself and usually has a detrimental effect. The current pandemic is proof of that. No dictionary or scientist (I admit that I know no virologists) mention that you might have sentient qualities. Let alone a rational mind. The lack of such attributes disqualifies you, according to humanity’s book, for being considered as an intelligent life form. Knowing this, I feel some remorse, and I want to prove them wrong.

You seem to spread faster than fake news (an accomplishment all in its own). But what astounds me the most is that some of your side effects appear to be improving the shape that this planet is in. Only time will tell whether this improvement is here to stay or will come undone as soon as the pandemic ends. We humans can be a bit stubborn at times. Unable to see past our blinders. My response to that? I will act as your spokesperson. The beast with the dirty paws that it now frantically washes to keep you at bay. Personally, I believe that you deserve to be identified as a brilliant piece of code. Coming from a basket case like me, it might not count for much, but confined to my cozy living quarters I will write about your silver lining. Yup, I realize that I have you to thank for being able to live my introvert dream. The brooder in me would marry you in an instant for making it possible.

Slightly discouraged by my indoctrination, I still feel compelled to give voice to what my own heart whispers to me. It tells me to emphasize the hopeful side of this gloomy situation. However, I refuse to deny, downplay, or sugarcoat your dark side, which is unmistakably there. Unlike some of the mighty toddlers who lead some of the world’s most powerful countries and keep on spreading misinformation. Hence, I continue to write to you with a heavy heart. You are teaching us to love with our hearts and not with our wallets. But the cost at which we are learning this lesson is high. The number of casualties keeps rising all over the globe. Some of your victims are swept under the rug by officials; others become part of a grim statistic. Either way, souls wither away in crowded waiting rooms or are left for dead in the streets. In poorer countries, such as Ecuador, the bodies of deceased family members, friends, and neighbors are being wrapped in plastic bags and left to decompose in the streets. Many nations’ healthcare systems are caving in under your pressure. Dramatic scenes have transformed many souls. People feel crushed, singled out like prime numbers, circled by composite numbers, believing that the sun will never again shine for them. We were unprepared. Safe and warm, we were caught off guard. Paraphrasing the wise Gollum, ‘you trixed us. Sneaky little Hobbitses.’

As you wreak havoc, I fear for the health of those people whom I love dearly. But I am not alone. For the first time in my life, I feel united with the rest of the world. Many of us struggle with the same fears, worries, and insecurities. I am not ready to say goodbye to all those whom I hold dear, but I am prepared to say goodbye to our old way of living. Humanity knows now that you don’t discriminate. Oblivious to one’s roots, you’re here to kick ass. Howling to the moon doesn’t stop you from claiming lives. But please, make sure that you spread faster than mankind’s stupidity, and that none of this will be in vain. I realize that you simply take that, which wasn’t ours, to begin with. You’re teaching us a lesson in humility, no matter how painful. As hummingbirds are humming, families are being torn apart. As their pain is being shared collectively, I hope that you’ll spare the minds and souls that can contribute to a better world. More humane. More in balance. More just.

These utterly strange times have forced me to put my life and priorities in a wholly different perspective. Therefore, I hope that all those who shape our civilization did the same and won’t return to business as usual. That would mean our inevitable demise. Yes, the expiration date of your accomplishments worries me when I see how some of the most influential leaders did not get your memo. Nor did the class of millionaires in Europe. Currently, on the democratic continent where I drink my morning coffee, the wealthy nations refuse to help those member states that are hit the hardest by your surprise visit. Although we are all on the same planetary-Titanic, which hit an unexpected iceberg, it seems that the worth of one’s life depends on the class imprinted on their boarding ticket. The ruling class doesn’t seem to understand that you don’t discriminate, dear Corona. They deny that you punch the ticket of whoever you feel like. They keep resisting the change that you try to bring about. Maintaining the social divide by any means necessary is their goal. Not realizing that they’re in just as much danger as the rest of us.

Will, a different way of life without the economy, be cataclysmic? Newer generations will be able to comment on that a hundred years from now. For now, it pleases me to see people praising those who rightfully deserve praise. For the first time in my short existence, it isn’t the CEO (who makes billions of dollars every few hours) we look up to. Nor is it the president of the United States of America (despite his mad-Twitter-skills). No. At last, people are praising those who have been undervalued, underpaid, and looked down upon for decades. People finally see that the value one adds to this society does not depend on their level of success, as defined by hopefully-late-capitalism. My dearest COVID-19, you have shown us what we were too blind to see. The ministers of health add less value than our medical staff. The bankers are of less importance than our truck drivers. The garbage men and women, the store clerks, and many others have more impact on our daily lives and structure than any superstar out there. We, the ordinary 99%, add more value than the 1% that owns the majority of the wealth of the world. They are replaceable. Unlike those whom we depreciated for so long. Power to the people! Bless you for reminding us of that.

You’ve shown us what George Orwell already tried to tell us with his novel ‘Animal farm.’ I hope that people will remember this lesson, for years to come, and that you’ll stay around long enough to improve the living conditions of future generations. Please, feel free to hang around for as long as Mother Earth needs to recover. The impact of the dramatic ecological highway robbery, organized by those selfish, greedy, and hegemonic bastards, which we falsely praised, left significant scars. I hope you will take them down. Give them no leeway, and make sure that those of us who were complicit will embrace this gift of time to reflect on our lifestyles. I don’t care what the people say. I know that you and Mother Earth can go on without us, but don’t give up hope just yet. Our civilization is a mess. We never really figured out how to make it work. There’s no denying that. However, those among us with their values, priorities, and empathetic nature in check can do beautiful things with nothing more than some sprinkles of hope and a vision.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Nelson Mandela

Despite the dire consequences for many families out there, when all is said and done, I would still like to thank you for stepping up to the plate COVID-19. Thank you for opening our eyes. Thank you for proving to us that we can comfortably live without the ruling class. That the added value of those at the top is negligible. Many of us now see the importance of our brave and tenacious medical staff. We understand the determination of the truck drivers who supply our stores. We experienced the kindness of the clerks who keep the stores open. It is you, my deadly Corona, who made us realize that the backbone of our society is found in the middle and lower classes. We can easily do without those who are sitting at the top self-righteously.

Single-handedly, you did more in the past 5 months for the well-being of this beautiful spaceship that we call home than humanity has done in the past 100 years. You took a massive swing, and I genuinely hope you hit this ball out of the park. Forcing us to go back to the drawing board to redesign our civilization was a brilliant move. Let’s just hope that the designers we have elected will discuss radical reforms. The dominant policies, of the previous forty years, need to be reversed. Hopefully, they now understand that public services are necessary investments and not liabilities. We’ll never go on, living without you.

Yours truly,

Space Utopian

Power to the people, captured in former Yugoslavia by Space Utopian.

#coronavirus #COVID-19 #pandemic #weneedchange

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