Wednesday, September 1, 2021

So Long as It's Other People....

We can ignore human misery, so long as it is happening to other people.

In the news business, there is an old saying that a murder in your town is a headline, but a murder in another town isn't.  Maybe two or three people killed in another town is a headline, or a dozen in another State, or a hundred in another country, and so on.  We care less and less, the more removed the incident is from us.

For example, there was a recent suicide bombing in Kabul.  What a tragedy - 100 people killed, 18 of them Americans.  But if all 100 were Afghans, well, the outrage would be a lot less.   We identify with our own.  It is like the Olympics - the press reports a big story when a US Athlete or team wins, but doesn't say much about Romania winning the gold in synchronized swimming.

It is, perhaps, human nature.  And human nature is not a very pretty thing - it is derived from our animal nature, and that gets pretty ugly.

The new variants of the Corona Virus are once again driving up the death and infection rates.   It is not yet at the peak we saw earlier this year, but it was starting to look like the whole virus thing was gone, and now it is resurgent.  And many, if not most, of those infected, sick, and dying, are people who refused to get vaccinated.

I have two observations on this.  First, when we go to a gay campground, the inoculation rate is 100%.  Most people who lived through the AIDS crises don't think twice about it.  After all, if there was a vaccine for HIV, people would have lined up around the block for it!

The second is that so long as "other people" are getting sick, people can pretend it isn't happening.  In 1985 is was gays and hemophiliacs and drug users.  Not one of us!  And maybe there is some nugget of truth to that.  After all, HIV was a lot harder to get - at least after blood transfusions were screened for the virus.   It wasn't something you could catch from a cough or cold.   But then again, blaming the victim isn't always the answer.

With Corona, the "other people" were the elderly, infirm, and sick - again, not one of us (or so the perception was).

But in recent months, the not one of us have been the un-vaccinated.  And I have heard more than one person express the belief that "those people" have it coming to them anyway.  If the virus kills only right-wing Republicans, then that's OK with them!

If you asked those same people if it was OK that the virus only killed the mentally challenged or the insane, they would react with horror.

But any Qanonsense believer or anti-vaxxer is, essentially that.  So we should have some compassion, instead of schadenfreude.

Well, maybe a little schadenfreude....

The scary thing is, though, people who were vaccinated are also getting this new variant and getting sick and some are dying.  So yes, it could happen to anyone, although statistically, so far, it seems to be the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers who bearing the brunt of this new wave of infection.

So, I guess we need to dust off the old surgical masks and start practicing social distancing - again. 

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water...