The dread Covid-19 has morphed into omicold, and the pandemic may be losing its force. But we’re kidding ourselves if we think another bad bug can’t soon arrive on these shores. The time to prepare is now!
So: The first thing we do, we kill all the old folks.
Resentment encouraged by contagion is okay so long as we steer it in the right direction. We haven’t. Whom we should blame for what we’ve been through these past two years really isn’t, to pick one example, the deer hunter in Potter County who wants nothing to do with the jab Donald Trump considers his gift to the nation — no matter that the Orange Man would get the hunter’s vote again. Nor should fault be found with the boostered Karen in Chestnut Hill who in this virus-friendly winter is sputtering, “My test was positive? No! Do it again!”
Neither Alpha, nor Beta, nor Delta, nor Gamma, nor Omicron has much cared about how we signal our attitude toward edicts from Harrisburg and Washington, whether we triple-mask and lock ourselves in a closet or utter two words comprising seven syllables and display a middle finger. Red versus blue? Libertarian versus statist? The virus shrugs.
No, if Covid was to make us sick unto death, what the virus mostly wanted to know was our birth dates. Who was at highest risk, and who, out of all proportion to their numbers, needed frantic attention? Who but the superannuated? It was largely others who paid the cost of lockdowns that destroyed livelihoods and of school closures that clobbered kids and their parents. Any entertainment value in the masquerade once reserved for Halloween waned all too soon.
This country had enjoyed a long run of medical marvels that even into this century helped to offset the aging of the demographic bulge that is the Baby Boom generation. But by 2020 many Boomers who had still been jogging into their 50s were in their 70s taking precarious steps just to get out of bed. Then came a pathogen that proved especially hard on the elderly, harder still on the elderly and ailing, including Boomers’ parents in the very final chapters of their lives.
So glory youth but off the old! Bye, Boomers! Begone!
It will be cruel but necessary for the greater good. We must steel ourselves and be done with those who with new wafts of sickening aerosols will place still more sacrifice on their juniors. Have no care for their creaky joints, their thinning limbs, their addled minds. Save Social Security and Medicare from collapse in the bargain.
Except: I’m 72? Already?
Might I backpedal, then, on this draconian action plan? Let’s pull out all the stops to protect the old who wish protection but keep free the young — my kids and their kids — to manage their risks as they choose, and to thrive.
Let’s pull out all the stops to protect the old who wish protection but keep free the young – my kids and their kids – to manage their risks as they choose, and to thrive.
And might I suggest this further amendment: that the old, too, should be left to opt for the risks of their choosing? One risk is dying on a respirator, yes. But there is another, which is the loss of living fully what living is left. It has been that loss which was imposed by high-handed orders from people in high places — orders too often enabled, it must be said, by our own fright.
Even this time round we oldsters can make our little gestures. I’ve got a clutter of masks. The snotty things seem to self-replicate in the house, in the car, in coat pockets. But only one must be preserved for visits to doctors. As trash trucks next pass through my neighborhood, the rest will be gone.
Richard Koenig is the author of the Kindle Single No Place To Go, an account of efforts to provide toilets during a cholera epidemic in Ghana.