On COVID-19 and Firemen
While traveling through Dallas, Texas, in an open-top convertible, the 35th president of the United Sates was shot and killed. Although John F. Kennedy was assassinated in broad daylight, the details of his demise were shrouded in mystery. Still, the Warren Commission determined that the shots that killed the president were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald. Nevertheless, exhaustive conspiracies theories have distrusted the official account for decades.
While I don’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist, I am always interested in the claims proposed in these analyses. I’ve watched every documentary ever produced about the Kennedy assassination. No joke, every single one. Okay, maybe not all of them. The point is: I’ve ingested massive amounts of conspiracy rhetoric, not only with Kennedy, but with other infamous happenings like 9/11, Pearl Harbor, and the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, to name a few. I, however, would never endorse any conspiracy theory, in its entirety, because like most official accounts, they can be cloaked in misinformation and downright hysteria. Conspiracy rhetoric isn’t useless, though.
It’s like a good novel, although the events within may be fictional, the questions presented through the narrative expose us to alternative possibilities. We can learn empathy and unearth deeper understanding. We can raise relevant questions that speak to our personal journey and the overall plight of mankind. That’s the beauty of observing alternative viewpoints—personal, political, religious or otherwise. Be they confirmations or contradictions, these diverse scenarios cultivate our personal truths.
When we don’t ground ourselves in a self-espoused guiding truth, we fall victim to outside circumstances. When we don’t attempt to establish a solid foundation, we are tossed about by the changing tides. Nevertheless, St. Future and St. Drake informed us: Life is good. Yes! We are living in the most amazing time in human history. Opportunities and technological advancements have connected us like never before. Alas, happiness it at our fingertips. While these developments have been posed as liberators, these devices and institutions have become agents of oppression, promoting pleasure and stimulation in lieu of sound reason. We’ve become slaves to entertainment--ideal conditions for a budding conspiracy theorist.
With the spread of COVID-19 and the mass hysteria surrounding this virus, I decided to earn my degree in conspiracy theory with a concentration in government collusion from the Michael Moore University. For my thesis, I would present ideas that demonstrate how the government could benefit from inseminating the public with Coronavirus. Here’s my theory:
First, the government identifies a new virus (that’s eerily similar to an existing virus).
Then, they instruct the media to inflate it’s ferocity.
Consequently, panic ensues, and hysteria arises.
Then, Big Brother implements government-sanctioned quarantines—no leaving the house for any reason, food included.
The wealthy are fine; however, the poor and sick are forced into desperation—looting and chaos spread quicker than the virus.
Now, the government has an excuse to act on their original aim: the extinction of inferior beings—those who the superior beings have deemed “burdens to society.”
And they could do so under the guise of national security.
Hence, you’ve effectively executed The Purge.
Oh, I’m not done. Considering the obvious economic fallout that would ensue before they could complete their purge, there would have to be a means to stimulate the economy.
And history has shown us that there’s one ace in the hole that always does the trick: starting a war (See The Military Industrial Complex). Boom!
It wouldn’t take much to reinvigorate America’s nationalism. With the mounting hysteria, any accusatory report directed at a rival (i.e. China, Russia, North Korea) could provide the ammunition for war—the Orwellian prophecy.
Now, our government is able to address it’s “true” interests at home and abroad—all while maintaining a moral high-ground.
I was sold on my theory. I even sent it to several friends; most of them didn’t respond. However, I wasn’t offended because I was half-joking when I drafted it. I say half-joking because we can agree that my theory presents viable possibilities--sinister and extreme possibilities albeit but possibilities, nonetheless. Furthermore, my theory was incomplete because it failed to produce the apex of good conspiracy theory—a compelling (but dastardly) motive. With regards to politics, history demonstrates that, regardless of the political system, money and power consistency supersede morality, and my theory supports this idea. Hypothetically speaking, however, is COVID-19 the best way for a corrupt government to reach this end? Why would they choose this route? Why would they implement this plan now?
As I reviewed my theory, I reasoned that the end didn’t justify the means, from any standpoint. The economic risk is too large and seemingly uncontrollable. The political risk was even larger. How could they be sure that our economy would recover? How could they be sure that a war would galvanize the American public. How could they ensure that a national purge wouldn’t excite civil unrest and revolution (it did in the movie…I’m just saying)? What I came to realize was, as with most conspiracy theories, the reward of the proposed scheme is rarely worth the risk. But then again, maybe I was right. Maybe I’m a prophet. Or maybe there’s a more sinister plan at play. Perhaps, there’s no conspiracy at all. Yes, there’s probably no conspiracy at all…or maybe there is.
Nevertheless, mankind is unraveling quickly. But why? How is this happening? Why is this happening? Why does it seem like the fate of mankind is at the whim of a virus that is no more deadly than the common flu? Furthermore, is there an explanation that doesn’t implicate the government? Perhaps we can find an answer within the psychological framework of society today.
My favorite novel is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It describes a dystopian society in which firemen start fires instead of concealing them. Specifically, they’re tasked with burning books—all of them. Intriguingly, society is largely indifferent to the absence of literature. Their world is teeming with technological and mechanical advances that have depreciated the perceived value of books. Bradbury argues that not only has the expansion of mass media devalued books, it’s thwarted individual thought. The Fire Captain, Beatty, stated, “‘Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.'” They’ve stripped intellectual freedom by numbing the collective consciousness. Consequently, whosoever controls the media, controls the mind of the public. Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1953, yet its principles apply in 2020.
Technology controls our lives. Yes, I know you knew that already.And you may also agree thattechnology, in and of itself, is not harmful. It provides avenues for discovery and understanding previously undreamt of. Nevertheless, our collective conscious appears stagnant. We have unimaginable resources, but we are seemingly incapable of solving age-old issues regarding entities like morality, poverty, and war. Moreover, we have ample information and resources to uncover our personal truths, yet we are bound by societal norms, expectations, and our personal baggage. Why do we fail to release ourselves from bondage? The answer lies in our capacity to heal from trauma.
You see, everyone is heartbroken. Yes, everyone. Be the trauma large or small, we’ve all experienced something that has negatively shaped our psychological disposition. Pain has made each of us question the efficacy of vulnerability.We’ve all sat down at the easel of life and had a situation or person that appeared and punched a hole in our canvas. When unresolved, the hole and the pain persist, and for most persons, this pain dictates their life. Be the means noble or less noble, avoiding pain becomes the chief objective. The truth hurts and healing is difficult, so we run. We seek copious amounts of pleasure. We seek relationships. We get drunk. We get high. We pursue status. We seek more relationships. We accrue material wealth. We seek validation. We do whatever we can to stay “happy.”
But the painting process is unending; a picture is always materializing. And something or someone may be guiding the brush that’s painting your reality. Something or someone may be shaping your ideas, thoughts, and actions. But we don’t realize it because we’re constantly distracted—constantly numbed. Then one day, we look up and realize that not only is the painting far from what we envisioned, the hole we sacrificed our life for has grown larger because we’ve repeated toxic patterns from which we never healed.
And the truth is no less scary. Our pain is no less painful. The process of healing is no easier because, after all, the hole is larger now. Faced with a predicament, we are presented three choices—life, a slow death, or a quick one. Sadly, the latter options are more common. What’s worse is we are doing the best we can. Nobody likes pain but pain is inevitable. It is a fact of human existence; therefore, since we’re going to experience suffering, then be sure that it’s meaningful suffering. Ensure that it’s curative. We must ensure that we’re toiling for a painting we’ll love—a life fit for a museum.
Sometimes, we believe maybe there’s an alternative route to happiness, around the hole. That’s why we search. That’s why we numb. It’s understandable and on the surface, rather logical. Unfortunately, the sole path to happiness lies in the mud, through the pain. Truth can only be uncovered when the hole in mended. And healing can only take place internally. No person or experience, in and of themselves, can do it for us. We can only find ourselves as we begin to view life free of the shade of past hurts.
In 2020, however, avoiding pain is easy. There are more distractions than ever before. And with the expansion of mass media, we can distract one another with striking efficiency. Enter in John F. Kennedy and COVID-19!
Well, it’s safe to say that the hysteria surrounding this pandemic is more harmful than the disease itself. The economic and psychological fallout alone may prove to be worse than the virus’ direct effects. And we may be responsible. Yes, the spread of this disease deserves attention. And I don’t intend to diminish it’s scope. However, medical leadership has long indicated controllable preventative measures that shouldn’t have excited the public uproar we’re witnessing. We did that. If a larger conspiracy existed, then we provided the fuel. If our world goes up in flames, then we contributed kerosene.
We’ve chained ourselves to our vices. We’ve come to rely on our feelings instead of reason. We avoid truth because it exposes us. It strips us naked; it makes us vulnerable. So we’ve done all we can to escape reality. We’ve “crammed ourselves full of noncombustible data, chocked ourselves so damned full of ‘facts’ they we are stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information.” Our incessant need for stimulation and validation have overwhelmed our sense of truth and decency. Consequently, we don’t possess the consciousness (or attention span) to decipher what’s fact or fiction, so we report, share, retweet whatever “feels” right. Whatever increases our ratings and viewership. Whatever earns us the most likes. Whatever earns us validation. We’re searching for a feeling while incapable of assessing whether our subsequent action will adequately satiate that thirst. (It won’t.)
We cannot control what others do; therefore, we can’t control whether another person washes their hands. We can’t control whether the government implements dastardly plans to destroy us all. (We can’t discount my theory, completely). However, we can claim control of our own actions. Specifically, we can carry out preventative measures without feeding the hysteria. We can be realistic about the situation while maintaining a positive outlook. More importantly, we can all work to become more self-aware, guided by truth instead of emotions. We can learn to heal instead of escaping. While numbing provides a temporary fix for pain, it stifles our cognition and we become intellectual slaves.
The route to societal freedom lies in personal responsibility. When we govern ourselves according to our personal virtues and purpose, we can become agents of change. We can conquer fear. Our leadership must be grounded in essence, not doctrine.Our confidence of character is the seed through which we change the world—it makes us superheroes. And this self-belief is contagious. You’ll never inspire a person to act by condemning them or dictating their actions. No one likes that. Even if they oblige, they’ll do so reluctantly. The best way to change the world is to be a presence so captivating that it inspires an uncontrollable fire in others. Let your life show them what’s possible. Show them that they can, in fact, think for themselves. Demonstrate that it’s okay to deviate from the masses—especially when the majority embraces mess. Control what you can control. Be a (bright) light but allow others to figure it out, independently. That’s where we begin.
This is an extraordinary time to be alive; however, personal, notAnd you may also agree that technology, in and of itself, is not harmful. It provides avenues for discovery and understanding previously undreamt of. Nevertheless, our collective conscious appears stagnant. We have unimaginable resources, but we are seemingly incapable of solving age-old issues regarding entities like morality, poverty, and war. Moreover, we have ample information and resources to uncover our personal truths, yet we are bound by societal norms, expectations, and our personal baggage. Why do we fail to release ourselves from bondage? The answer lies in our capacity to heal from trauma.st remain poised when external circumstances unravel unexpectedly, graciously endorsing truth over fear. We must remain steadfast in our convictions while staying open to new ideas. Moreover, we must embrace the work required for healing. This is how we uncover our personal truths. This is how we collectively heal. This is how society can mend the wound. This is how we cure the disease of fear. This is how you construct a museum, worthy of our respective masterpieces.