On some level or other, I’ve been waiting for my world to come crashing down since I was a kid. Call it one of the many fragmented outcomes of a dysfunctional childhood. And reading too many complicated books when I was too young to ignore them.
I should have waited until college where you are forced to read them and can forget the subject as soon as you pass the finals. I read them because I was interested in everything, so I read any book I could find. I don’t think I’d defined “reading for fun” as a concept. I just read. I had an empty brain and I needed to fill it up.
A lot of my early reading, once I got past horses and dogs, was historical fiction. With each piece of fiction I read, I found myself in the stacks of New York’s main library, somewhere down in the basement in the stacks. Because I wanted to know what was real and what was fiction. I ultimately had to unlearn almost everything when I got into more serious versions of history, but the fiction got me to the real deal.
I started with British history. I think it was King Arthur who got me into the monarchs of England beginning with William of Normandy. From there I moved into France and then fell into Rome where I stayed for a really long time. But they were around for a long time and many of their governmental structures are currently part of our modern government.
Over the years, I got a pretty good grip on history and how anything happening now has happened before and will happen again and again and again. Humans don’t seem to have much of a memory for the past. Even when it’s something through which they lived. We have approximately 50 years of historical memory, though recently it seems to be getting shorter. We call it stupid, but is it stupid or blind ignorance? And if it is blind ignorance, is it because our educational systems have been stripped to the bone?
Do they teach history? If they do, are they using books that have any basis in reality? Most of the books I got as “history” in public school were from the early 1940s and I think they are still using the same books. A kid who wants to learn history had better have a good library available because whatever he learns in school is probably wrong.
One day last year, Garry and I were standing behind someone at Target. She had an entire cart full of kid stuff. Young kids. It turned out she was a first-grade teacher and she was spending hundreds of dollars for supplies for her “kids.” She was buying pens and pencils, paper and scissors because the school didn’t have a budget. Notebooks. Little furry toys to use as prizes. Paint and paper. Glue. They’ve eliminated all of the things that made education fun for us. Art, music, excursions, drama. In most public schools you’re lucky if you get a textbook published post-WWII. I wonder if kindergartners get crayons or have to bring their own?
There are many reasons for the economic collapse. Coronavirus is the nail in a coffin we’ve been building as long as this country has existed and before that since the Romans ruled the world or at least an awful lot of it.
We can blame the Bubonic Plague for creating central governments on the European continent. Because so many people died and serfs were gone, the fields went untended. There was no food. What was left was often infected with ergot which is not unlike LSD in how it affects the human brain. So the wealthier people (we assume nobility but that’s not necessarily true) who had silos managed to gather the grain and took responsibility for distributing it. Until then, the government was essentially confined to the lord and his serfs, but after the 14th century, there were kings and subjects. I think there are too many kings and far too many subjects.
We never developed a vaccine for the Bubonic Plague. It’s still with us. Sometimes it responds to antibiotics, but not always. We keep it from taking over by controlling it the moment it appears. There was an outbreak in San Francisco in 1900 in Chinatown.
The San Francisco plague of 1900–1904 was an epidemic of bubonic plague centered on San Francisco’s Chinatown. The epidemic was recognized by medical authorities in March 1900, but its existence was denied for more than two years by California’s Governor Henry Gage.
Cause: Bubonic plague
Date: 1900 – 1904
Deaths: 119 deaths
San Francisco plague of 1900–1904 – Wikipedia
Although Bubonic Plague — when we think about plagues which we do more often these days than we used to — is always the one that first pops into our mind, the “Spanish” Plague which lasted from 1918 through 1919 killed far more people. It wasn’t Spanish. It actually started with some sick cows near a military base in Kansas, but if I called it the “Kansas Plague,” no one would know what I’m talking about.
So the first wave came through, helped along by the horrible conditions of the war. And just like now, they closed everything. But as soon as the contagion seemed to be letting up slightly started to drop, so the manufacturers said: “it’s going away, open everything up.” The second wave hit and killed twice as many people as the first wave. But let’s not let history get in our way. Or science. Or even commonsense. See “1918 Pandemic Influenza” on the CDC website. It even has a timeline and pictures.
Culturally, we’ve maximized workplaces while simultaneously eliminating small and medium-size companies where owners and workers could have a relationship. Live in the same town. Send their kids to the same schools. When companies and farms were scattered throughout the country, a single company’s collapse would not leave thousands of people without work and their families in imminent danger of losing everything.
But wait! When the robots take over — and they will — nobody’s job will be safe. During the Democratic primary debates, I kept wondering why no one was paying attention to Andrew Yang. He was smart. He was telling the truth. He was already way ahead of our current monstrosity-in-office.
I know I didn’t start the fire that’s now burning our world, but I didn’t even understand there WAS a fire until I was in my thirties.
No generation made this mess alone. Civilization — European civilization — has been pushing in this direction since governments were invented. Bigger, richer, greedier, more powerful has always been the gold crown. It didn’t start in the U.S. It happened long ago in a land far away. Lay this one on Rome or maybe Macedonia.