Fear and Loathing - Part V - The Month the Earth Stood Still
I miss Anthony Bourdain. I miss his voice, that poetic voice that carries the cool demeanor of a confident rock star. I miss his no-nonsense authenticity, his empathy, his ability to bridge cultural boundaries and his way of communicating the world as it is, not necessarily how he wants it to be. But alas, instead of Bourdain we are left with bickering voices, voices that can’t even reach a consensus in times of crisis. Unfortunately, the voices that we should be listening to are pushed aside for those that are the loudest.
I want to exist in a world where Anthony Bourdain is still around. Maybe in that world the world hasn’t reached this level of disharmony. Maybe in that world politicians listen to respected physicians and scientists and earn the trust of the people they govern. Maybe in that world people distrust stereotypes and avoid laying blanket blame upon other cultures or nations. Maybe in that world the last two months panned out more like this…
Earth Two (Bourdain’s World) – February 1st to March 31st, 2020
A protected species of animal is traded illegally in an open-air market. It becomes exposed to a new virus from another animal that it would not have had direct contact with in the wild. With no natural immunity, the virus jumps from one species to the other. In its small cage it becomes incredibly infectious, shedding viral pathogens into the human population.
The virus spreads quickly and is largely ignored before proper actions are taken to control the outbreak. Local governments scramble to respond in an effective way, but it is already too difficult to contain. The virus spreads further and goes unnoticed in the major travel hubs that feed into every corner of the world.
Leaderships across the globe quickly join together to discuss options. They listen to the world’s top scientists and medical experts. They bite the bullet and set a goal for a strict month-long lockdown.
Influential journalists and media personalities act quickly to inform the people of the dangers everyone faces and what must be done to overcome them. Non-essential travel comes to an abrupt halt. Non-essential businesses close and the vast majority of people hunker down to stay at home for the next month.
Store shelves stay stocked and people ration fairly and equally. Government agencies monitor hoarders, keep the streets safe and look after the most underprivileged populations.
Governments around the world share resources and work together to send medical supplies to whichever nations need them most. Privileged nations send out medical teams and equipment to nations with struggling health care systems.
Economies in each nation take major hits, but as the month comes to an end it becomes clear that the contagion has been contained. Though it was costly, it saved countless lives and headed off an even larger global economic catastrophe.
The strict self-quarantine across the globe reaped other benefits as well. One of the greatest human killers in history, seasonal influenza, is largely contained as its process of infection has been cut off. Other diseases that rely on human-to-human transmission have also been slowed or eliminated altogether.
The global effort results in a new accord between all nations. The world is united in its common goals of preserving the health of all peoples and limiting human impacts on natural environments. Governments invest more in national health care systems. Green economies flourish as old energy solutions make way for new ones. Greater welfare nets are put in place to protect those who need help most. Protecting natural habitats and biodiversity becomes a focal point of attention to prevent the next outbreak.
The people of the world look to sustainable systems of production and consumption. Air travel drops off as more business is done online. Cruise ships become an outdated relic of the past. Local economies grow more rapidly and sustainable as global commerce shifts its growth. This creates a space for sustainable food practices to thrive as factory farming and wildlife trades pose too much of a risk to the future health of the planet and its people.
Anthony Bourdain receives the Galactic Medal of Bravery from the still-living Carrie Fisher. Chewbacca is in attendance but for some reason still does not receive his own medal.
Back in our universe, we struggle to reason why we didn’t act sooner, why we weren’t able to rally together in a concerted effort to drive this virus back. Those of us in China had about one week of feeling like we had achieved this goal. The lockdowns loosened, businesses started reopening and students were told that they could soon return to school. We all breathed a sigh of relief. We accomplished our mission. For more than a month, we had lived with the incredible anxiety of forced lockdowns. We had sacrificed our freedoms and our collective wealth to fight back the spread of Covid-19 so that the rest of the world wouldn’t have to. But unfortunately it was too late, and we watched with distressing familiarity as the numbers of infected climbed dramatically in other nations.
So many of us were wrong. And so many of us continue to be wrong. Maybe one important lesson to come out of this is learning to be wrong. Being wrong is the only way we learn to do things right. But being wrong, and admitting to it, is a difficult thing to do. We all have attachments to our beliefs and upending them can be a challenge even for the most open of minds. Truth evolves as we learn to familiarize ourselves with it, and we must be willing to welcome our own mistakes and use them as tools to navigate a better future.
Maybe next time we can be Earth Two, even without Anthony Bourdain here to guide us. At the very least, maybe next time we’ll know how to wash our hands properly and hopefully realize that no one needs that much toilet paper.
4/3/2020 02:11:34 pm
Chewbacca line was the best!!!!!!
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