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  • Reverend James Squire

Epitaph for a Catastrophe

An article in the Inquirer on 3/7/2021 is entitled “Epitaph for a Catastrophe” by Anthony Faiola. The article is about what should be put in a time capsule outside of Washington, D.C. that would describe how humanity across the world responded to the Pandemic. It was a capsule that would help people to never forget what happened during this terrible time of dealing with the enormous challenges created by the virus. Humanity tends to forget. Look at where we are right now. Texas, Florida, Mississippi, and other states have opened up and make mask wearing optional. In Texas the governor never checked with his medical officers who did not agree with him. Mayors of big cities “remembered” when we opened up too early and are encouraging their residents to stay the course and wear a mask and social distance.

Mr. Faiola’s article points out countries that did well in their response and countries that did not. We are in the “did not” group because of the failure of the Trump Administration to have a proper response. There were great responses from countries such as New Zealand and Australia and from businesses such as the Maryland vodka distillery that changed its operation to produce hand sanitizers. There were many successes in attacking the virus such as the incredible speed that drug companies produced the vaccine.

However, Faiola’s position is that we will be remembered for our colossal failures in our nation to come together under a divisive leader and too many who chose to not wear masks and adhere to the proper guidelines. This failure to respond was seen in some of the wealthiest nations. Many defied guidelines to stay at home because if they didn’t, their families would have starved. People on Wall Street continued to make money. People on Main Street continued to struggle for financial stability.

It will not read well for us as the most vulnerable in our country continued to be underserved by vaccinations going to those with more access. We were not good neighbors to the world as we made sure that our people were vaccinated before vaccines were made available to many in those countries. We are like the people who go the grocery store before the possibility of a big storm and horde as many vital items as we can.

England has memorials for just about everything, but there is very little that has been done to remember the Pandemic of 1918 with the exception of a stain class tryptic in East London in Whitechapel where there is a church turned into a library.

It was not our finest hour. Vicki and I had a zoom call with friends from England. Margaret is a retired teacher and Roger is the retired Chief Architect of the Anglican Church of England. They characterized England’s response with mixed reviews. However, England had something that helped them to remember catastrophe as they had the Blitz. During the Blitz masks were never an issue for the English. They were seen as a patriotic duty. The Brits also came together as a nation because the Blitz was happening on English soil, and they certainly had a robust leader in Churchill. Boris Johnson was not a great leader at first, but his own bout with the virus made him an instant convert to change to a more rigorous approach. Our wars were fought on foreign soil. Our civil war on our own land never became a reference point for resilience for combatting the virus. It was too much in our distant past and far from our consciousness.

We covered all the usual subjects in the zoom call such as the current crisis in the Royal family, but they suggested something at the end of the call which Vicki and I did last night. They suggested that we view something that was released in Britain a week ago. It was a documentary, “Blitz Spirit with Lucy Worsley”, and was a time capsule in a way to explain the English response to the Pandemic. Recall that the British gave a “jab” (British for a vaccination) to as many people as possible. Our friends will not receive a second shot until April. Their approach made sense to them. Try to vaccinate as one people together. They also had to shut down for a longer period of time that we did. It was against the law to leave your home.

I wish we could create a documentary of everything that our doctors, nurses, front line workers and first responders had to go through including the death and the despair of families. I am not talking about what we see on the news in short episodes but a full-length documentary and REQUIRE everyone to watch it in the same way that we require people to get their photo for their real identification to replace the driver’s license. We could juxtapose that with the Governor of Texas’ address saying “Texas is open!” and some video footage of the drinking and partying in large groups of our college students on Spring Break! Do you think it would make a difference? Out of sight would not be out of mind for the governors who have opened up and the Spring Breakers. Do you think that they would process all who have died and are presently dying? Today I will settle for a maybe!

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