Lied to by the president of the United States and egged on by craven commentators, a lot of People in america staunchly refused to give up social gatherings, no make any difference that being dwelling was the greatest way to continue to keep the virus from spreading. They refused to put on masks, and they mocked and harassed persons who did. Some are, even now, rejecting a vaccine that could continue to keep the virus from mutating into so several variants that there will be no hope of made up of it. And they have done it all, they insist, for the reason that they are patriots.
Covid deaths are counted in this kind of inconsistent strategies that we may by no means know their accurate variety, but by 1 estimate as many as 900,000 Individuals have now died of the virus. If you exclude the Civil War, in which People in america fought on both sides, which is much more Individuals lost to Covid than in all the other wars we have fought. Blended.
In short, the coronavirus pandemic grew to become a ideal illustration of James’s “moral equivalent of war.” We weren’t fighting a human enemy, but we have been fighting for our life even so. This national calamity, this invasion by a harmful and unstoppable force, was our prospect to come with each other across every feasible division. We could eventually recall how to sacrifice on behalf of our fellow Individuals, how to mourn collectively the unfathomable losses — not just of existence but of stability, camaraderie, the capability for hope.
A lot of People — necessary personnel, first responders, hospital staff members, lecturers and quite a few many others — misplaced their lives mainly because they made this sort of sacrifices. Thousands and thousands far more complied unhesitatingly with steps intended to continue to keep the most susceptible among us secure. But too, far too a lot of of us did not. Way too several were hostile to the very strategy that they really should change their conduct even in the smallest way for the sake of strangers.
But for those “patriots,” we could possibly be ready now to imagine the proclamation of an additional kind of Memorial Day, 1 that commemorates not self-sacrifice in war but the life we saved by joining collectively to provide the same lead to. If Vietnam exploded the unquestioned motivation to countrywide company, the coronavirus pandemic should really have been the very matter to provide it back.
That it did specifically the opposite tells us some thing about who we are as human beings, and who we are as a country. There is a lot more to mourn currently than I at any time recognized ahead of.
Margaret Renkl is a contributing belief writer who addresses flora, fauna, politics and society in the American South. She is the writer of the guides “Late Migrations: A Normal Background of Love and Loss” and the forthcoming “Graceland, At Previous: Notes on Hope and Heartache From the American South.”
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