We are well into our fourth week of quarantine in this house, and the kids are still very happy about it. My wife, also seems to have found her groove a little bit. For us, and I expect for many around this state, this country, and the world, this kind of personal isolation can be a strong force for triggering feelings of gratitude, in the sense that we are given the opportunity to really focus on what is most important. For the lucky ones who are not immediately under financial pressure from layoffs or closed business ventures, isolation becomes a lens through which we understand what we have, what we have always had, and how small other things are in comparison to family and home. Revelations are being triggered everywhere about how meaningless the trappings of wealth, party lifestyle, and rampant consumerism truly are. That is an important gift. I really need a haircut, and I can't get one. We ran out of cider. I make pizza almost every day from a 25-pound bag of flour. My dentist cancelled my cleaning appointment. This is not real hardship. But I'm still losing my mind.
Yet, on most days, I find my comparative luxury to be cold comfort. I am a bit of a misanthrope by nature, so the lack of personal contact isn't yet something that is taking much of a toll; as long as I have new music to listen to, and somewhere to write about it, my needs are pretty much being met - along with two kids and a beautiful wife, I'm good. If you listened to my podcast at all - which is now on hiatus, but may come back at some point in the future - then you know that a large part of the inspiration for this blog came from a process of working through years, if not decades, of depression. And I feel it now, again, in ways that I had almost forgotten about. I stay up late, and sleep through most of the morning. I had stopped doing that long ago. I am really craving some cannabis, but for now my resolve is intact. That would be a dangerous move for me to make, personally. But for the state of Oregon, sales are up. It is easy to see why: cannabis is often a useful antidote to both boredom and stress.
So why is my depression coming back? well, aside from a lingering sense that the next few months might bring new surprises, as I discussed last week, we are in a crisis of political leadership. I can't look away - which is what many tend to do. I have a friend on Facebook, who I won't name because it doesn't matter who he is - who mentioned the other day that he turned off the news for the last 6 days and he has never felt better. And many cheered him on. I see that theme a lot - people are further disengaging from society, and are not connected to the damage that is being done, right now. I can't expect everyone to pay attention to the train-wreck that is American politics the way that I do, but at the same time I can't help but feel that this collective self-distancing from the nuances of political discourse is exactly the point. Jared Kushner explains how the Federal stockpile of PPE is not meant for the states; Trump bullies every reporter that asks him even mildly rigorous questions, while fewer and fewer average citizens are even paying attention.
We need outrage, and we don't have it, yet. The reason why is perfectly encapsulated in this video.
After the state calls for restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people, a woman in Ohio is questioned by a reporter as she leaves a church service that was held in violation of this order.
I'm covered in Jesus's blood.
Reporter: but aren't you worried about getting other people sick?
They could get me sick - but they're not. Because I'm covered in his blood.
This is a woman who cannot conceive of greater-good altruism, and lives in a complete disconnect from the concept of personal responsibility; it is as if she cannot see that because of her actions, there may be consequences for people that are not her, or members of her church. In my mind, this represents a complete breakdown of common decency. This is the Trump legacy - a normalization of selfishness and narcissism, from sea to shining sea.
This is what I struggle with. How can I be happy for myself, for my beautiful family, for our own comfortable-enough refuge, when every day is a new low for this country, in the spheres of domestic and foreign policy? After decades of illegal occupation, coming as a surprise to no one, Israel is officially annexing the West Bank. That's bad: soul-crushing, how-can-it-get-any-worse bad.
We will look back at this time, and wish we had done more to stop the never-ending flow of political malfeasance. Our sources of media are not giving us the information we need - I discussed this last week. I am writing these pieces, in part, because I don't see many outlets even trying to speak truth to power. I hate to say it, but we need outrage. Every one of us who refuses to even pay attention right now will have to answer one day for their lack of engagement. The world needs us, and if we don't fight back right now, we may not get another chance. I don't have all the answers, but I do know that paying attention is the first step, and having access to unbiased information is the second. These are the numbers right now.
The next few weeks are going to be even worse for the scourge of coronavirus. Social distancing is going to continue, at least into early May. My heart goes out to every medical professional on the front lines right now. Stay home, everyone. This isn't even close to over.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin.
Our Democracy is on life-support right now. The stakes could not be higher.
Federal guidelines: nothing new.
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US: 366,238.
About the Author
Krister Bjornson Axel
Morristown, New York
Paris, France. Madison, Wisconsin. Los Angeles. Ashland, Oregon. Ottawa. I write music, I write about music, and I write code. See also: photography, prose, podcasting. I have 1 gorgeous wife, 2 amazing kids, and many interests.
Read my poetry here.