Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. We Know the Cure

 

Through the panic-driven empty shelves of early spring to the mandatory mask mandates, it’s been a surreal experience to see the society around me as I knew it, and took for granted it would always be, crumble into an inexplicable chaos. We are left with a gaping hole of empty promises and uncertain projections. It’s a crisis of mind and reality that threatens our very foundation.

Bernardo Betolucci’s Il Conformista.

I remember at the beginning, seeing the images of Chinese government officials welding apartment doors shut, reportedly to stop the spread of this disease from which no one quite knew the origins, or its final destination. Then the waves of people fleeing Asia and Europe, trying to outrun both disease and mandated lockdowns. Soon, the reports from Washington State nursing homes where clusters of deaths occurred, quickly followed by the mass infections in New York.

In Minnesota, we were promised by officials and politicians it was only a matter of time before it arrived in our state. And it did. First came the nonstop phone calls from people needing to know if we’re open. Yes, we were deemed ‘essential.’ Just like grocery stores, pharmacies, car repair shops, liquor stores, and candy shops. Now, customers interrogate me about why I don’t have the particular Fancy Feast Garden Medley with béchamel sauce. Precious Muffy won’t tolerate the pâté. Then they yell at me for not throwing out another customer because he forgot his mask. Not too scared to come out for artisanal cat food, but intolerant of not tying a bandana around one’s face.

This is the hallmark of a pandemic that is to be taken deadly serious but by committee and favor and popularity. It’s the hallmark of a society that turned its back on liberty and creativity and self-determination.

With the disease, we didn’t know how much fear to conjure up in its stead. Many who could shuttered themselves off from the world, sealing themselves into an antiseptic environment in which the unknown was the only certainty, and was certainly the enemy. Slowly, the scientists and the politicians gave their permission to let most of the country live, that hadn’t already died one way or another. But for those who paid attention, who sat on the observation deck as the tidal wave demolished everything in its path, we saw the inconsistencies that made our skepticism. And it turned us into heretics. Why were we not allowed to question the World’s Biggest Candy Store – a building in the middle of cornfields, swollen with confections that could make Mr. Wonka himself get a toothache – staying open while the St. Paul barbershop owner, with a single chair and mandated safety precautions in place lose his livelihood? Could any reporter question the Minnesota Governor about his personal ties to the candy man? But we are told that to question authority is akin to killing someone’s grandparent, or teacher, or make a nurse work an extra shift. The politicians and scientists tell us what we must do and how we must live; their words are prison sentences without appeal.

We should have expected this. The real disease is much more widespread. It has been slowly and steadily making its way through our society and cultural institutions. The casualty rate will reach one-hundred percent.

It is suicide by conformity.

Freedom of thought, individualism, the gallant pursuit of principled morality, and holding ideas up to an established truth, are now diagnosed as the disease by a judgment class. We are told to follow rules for our own hollow self-preservation by people who appointed themselves as the experts. And we follow largely without question. Scattered amongst us are nonconformists, but our voices are shouting into the wind; our pleas are never heard by those we desperately want to reach. Those with power, who we hope will elevate our appeals, dismiss us as not having quite the polished tone or purity of allegiance. Or worse yet – are afraid to be separated from their comfortable perch and be made to struggle through life’s battles with us, the outnumbered warriors.

Now liberty is traded for safety; common sense for unreasonable hyperventilating. The chains of comfort keep us from the exhilaration of discovery, even if it results in disappointment. What is there in life to carve out one’s place if he can be dumped like an interchangeable cog into the next machine?

No longer is there wonder in creating the beautiful, the unique, the characters that inhabit the heart and are expressed as a tribute to our god and our humanity. Now, it’s making the things that are easy to replicate for mass consumption and satisfy our basic thirsts. That is not in itself bad; it allows an inherent increase in lifestyle quality for broad swaths of our society. But it seems like the motivation for it is to put an expiration date on our material desires. We cannot build from the past because we are constantly destroying it. We cannot learn from ourselves because we are all children, discovering the pain of fire as if it were for the first time, and praising our discovery of the sun as if it didn’t exist but for us. And while we try to convince ourselves of our own specialness, we hide in groups that share the exact same thoughts and views so we don’t appear too extraordinary, but then not so plain as to be cast out.

Consequently, we partition ourselves into protected groups, warring and dehumanizing those with which we may disagree. The purity of thought is an ever-expanding morass that will eventually take us all. Those who want to prevent this type of future see first-hand what becomes of the victims and the compliant dupes who eventually succumb to the same fate. The Girl Scouts were once an organization that fostered the idea of being female as a blessing to be nurtured and encouraged. Now they are ashamed of a woman and mother who will champion equal justice under the law for all Americans. News organizations and media outlets that smugly boast of being courageous stalwarts for truth, glibly cast aside any principles, and ostracize good faith writers such as Bari Weiss and Glenn Greenwald. They relinquish intellectual honesty and blindly follow baseless attacks on Abagail Shrier and J.K. Rowling by faceless mobs. All the while they protect actual predators such as Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Harvey Weinstein. Twitter and Facebook allow anti-Semitic screeds from Louis Farrakhan and Holocaust denier (and generally evil person) Ayatollah Khamenei, but flag news stories from the New York Post.

We covet the conformist, never the contrarian. What a shame to be without the works of Shakespeare, Eliot, Dostoevsky, and Orwell. How bland would our cityscapes be without the great cathedrals, ornate museums, or even the graceful lines of a Frank Lloyd Wright gas station? Our own great American Experiment would be nothing more than a dream if not for free-thinking men such as Locke, Hamilton, and Madison. It leaves us in a society that mourns the death of its culture, but does nothing to try to revive it. Instead, there is a collective, fatal blow ensuring its swift demise. We lament the fears our children are swallowed by, yet willingly abide by the rules giving life to such fears.

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  1. Tex929rr Coolidge

    You are definitely on to something. Yet some popular culture still celebrates the iconoclast to some extent – Harry Potter and Katniss in the Hunger Games are heroes (in fiction aimed at young people) who push against the tide. How to reconcile these ideas? I suppose part of it is the fact that schools tell kids to be unique yet squash nonconformity in both official and unofficial ways. After all, what is more savage than the way teenagers treat perceived outsiders?

    And as a veteran you can appreciate how some of our most celebrated military heroes were regarded as rebels in their own time. Think of Billy Mitchell or Smedley Butler. I know at least one USAF Medal of Honor recipient was almost court martialed for the act that resulted in the award.

    I know I’m getting away a bit from what your post covers, but the dilemma is interesting.

    • #1
    • October 30, 2020, at 5:09 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    Quite some powerful rhetoric there.

    • #2
    • October 30, 2020, at 5:10 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. DonG (Biden is compromised) Coolidge

    It is revival or bust! Oddly, it might be the Orange Man and a handful of successful rappers that lead the way to the promised land. 

    • #3
    • October 30, 2020, at 8:46 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Juliana Member

    Last Friday our high school staff received word that we will likely be returning to distance learning in a week. As a school psychologist this left me physically and mentally ill. Everyone is so determined to be ‘safe’ that they don’t care about the damage they are doing to students’ academic, social and emotional development. Unfortunately a lot of the teachers are on the cutting edge of keeping ‘everyone safe.’ Meaning themselves. I had a lot of respect for teachers until they started becoming adamant about how in danger they are by doing their jobs. No one closed schools a few years ago when the flu decimated classrooms and 10-15% of students were out on a daily basis. Now, with 30 positive cases per 10,000 population, or 0.3%, we must all be safe!! Close it down!!! Never mind that the number includes people in nursing homes, false positives, or that most cases are asymptomatic (aka – they are NOT sick). We HAVE TO STAY SAFE!!! How could we live with ourselves if we knew we are responsible for someone else getting sick? As if that can truly be determined.

    This continued nonsense has been actually traumatic for some – don’t laugh. I was told by the school nurse that she was talking with a high school student on the phone who was crying because his parents would not let him come to school. They told him that if he went into the building he would bring home Covid and kill the whole family. What have we wrought?

    • #4
    • October 30, 2020, at 8:46 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker

    Juliana (View Comment):
    I was told by the school nurse that she was talking with a high school student on the phone who was crying because his parents would not let him come to school.

    This will be our lasting legacy if we let this continue. I’m so sorry to hear about this, and I believe it’s a more common scenario than is reported. I hope we realize how much harm is being done before it’s too late. Thank you for sharing this.

    • #5
    • October 30, 2020, at 9:19 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    It is revival or bust! Oddly, it might be the Orange Man and a handful of successful rappers that lead the way to the promised land.

    Odd times, indeed!

    • #6
    • October 30, 2020, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • Like
  7. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    You are definitely on to something. Yet some popular culture still celebrates the iconoclast to some extent – Harry Potter and Katniss in the Hunger Games are heroes (in fiction aimed at young people) who push against the tide. How to reconcile these ideas? I suppose part of it is the fact that schools tell kids to be unique yet squash nonconformity in both official and unofficial ways. After all, what is more savage than the way teenagers treat perceived outsiders?

    And as a veteran you can appreciate how some of our most celebrated military heroes were regarded as rebels in their own time. Think of Billy Mitchell or Smedley Butler. I know at least one USAF Medal of Honor recipient was almost court martialed for the act that resulted in the award.

    I know I’m getting away a bit from what your post covers, but the dilemma is interesting.

    I absolutely agree with you. And the military analogy is something that was rolling around in my mind, but didn’t quite know how to add. Thank you for bring it up.

    • #7
    • October 30, 2020, at 9:21 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Quite some powerful rhetoric there.

    I’ll take that as a compliment?(!)

    • #8
    • October 30, 2020, at 9:31 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. tigerlily Member

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Juliana (View Comment):
    I was told by the school nurse that she was talking with a high school student on the phone who was crying because his parents would not let him come to school.

    This will be our lasting legacy if we let this continue. I’m so sorry to hear about this, and I believe it’s a more common scenario than is reported. I hope we realize how much harm is being done before it’s too late. Thank you for sharing this.

    That’s a high school kid. Just imagine the emotional damage being done to the younger kids in grades K-6.

    • #9
    • October 30, 2020, at 9:46 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker

    tigerlily (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Juliana (View Comment):
    I was told by the school nurse that she was talking with a high school student on the phone who was crying because his parents would not let him come to school.

    This will be our lasting legacy if we let this continue. I’m so sorry to hear about this, and I believe it’s a more common scenario than is reported. I hope we realize how much harm is being done before it’s too late. Thank you for sharing this.

    That’s a high school kid. Just imagine the emotional damage being done to the younger kids in grades K-6.

    The consequences will be felt far and wide. This is from Italy, where the government has instituted another lockdown. People are pleading for their lives. https://twitter.com/robinmonotti/status/1321785323676991489?s=21

    • #10
    • October 30, 2020, at 9:52 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Suspira Member

    Do mandatory mask mandates originate in the Department of Redundancy Department?

    • #11
    • October 30, 2020, at 10:28 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. Nohaaj Coolidge

    I have already decided that if, G-d forbid, Handsy Joe is deemed president, and then subsequently fulfills his promise to make mask wearing mandatory, everywhere, all the time, that I will not ever wear a mask again. Nor will I pay a fine. I will if required spend time in jail, rather than submit. My immutable line in the sand. 

    • #12
    • October 30, 2020, at 7:39 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker

    Nohaaj (View Comment):
    I will if required spend time in jail, rather than submit. My immutable line in the sand. 

    This is what’s missing today. Thank you, and I stand with you!

    • #13
    • October 30, 2020, at 7:45 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Bishop Wash Member

    How truthful should one be on contract tracing lists? Our governor is now requiring restaurants to have guests put their name and phone number or email address down to be contacted if an employee comes down with Bat Flu. I don’t think I’m supposed to contact the restaurant if I become sick.

    I forgot about it until we went out tonight. I used my name and a spam email address because I did use my debit card so there’s a record. Thinking about using cash and false information next time.

    • #14
    • October 30, 2020, at 8:02 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Nohaaj Coolidge

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    How truthful should one be on contract tracing lists? Our governor is now requiring restaurants to have guests put their name and phone number or email address down to be contacted if an employee comes down with Bat Flu. I don’t think I’m supposed to contact the restaurant if I become sick.

    I forgot about it until we went out tonight. I used my name and a spam email address because I did use my debit card so there’s a record. Thinking about using cash and false information next time.

    If you carry a smart phone, all contact tracing is performed automatically. They know where your phone was, and every phone that was in proximity, and for how long. Fake emails, Hah, you silly man. That is for Gollywood, not real life. 

     

    • #15
    • October 30, 2020, at 8:07 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Flicker Coolidge

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    How truthful should one be on contract tracing lists? Our governor is now requiring restaurants to have guests put their name and phone number or email address down to be contacted if an employee comes down with Bat Flu. I don’t think I’m supposed to contact the restaurant if I become sick.

    I forgot about it until we went out tonight. I used my name and a spam email address because I did use my debit card so there’s a record. Thinking about using cash and false information next time.

    Thus the government’s need for a cashless society.

    • #16
    • October 30, 2020, at 8:44 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    How truthful should one be on contract tracing lists? Our governor is now requiring restaurants to have guests put their name and phone number or email address down to be contacted if an employee comes down with Bat Flu. I don’t think I’m supposed to contact the restaurant if I become sick.

    I forgot about it until we went out tonight. I used my name and a spam email address because I did use my debit card so there’s a record. Thinking about using cash and false information next time.

    Incredible. I wonder what they’ll come up with next to justify continuing this – or how much further the government will take it?

    • #17
    • October 30, 2020, at 9:08 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. James Lileks Contributor

    We cannot build from the past because we are constantly destroying it.

    In one sense I agree. For the Left, the past is a vast field of poison weeds, and once we have uprooted every noxious root we will be free to plant the seeds of virtue in the welcoming soil. The past binds us to sin. There is the necessary harrowing when the society is untangled from its origins, but it’s all for the better.

    In another sense I disagree: it is not a matter of we, it is a matter of them. We have not been engaged in a century-long project to destroy the foundations; they have, in the name of advancing some new liberation. I’m not talking about the natural evolution that applies the Founder’s truths to those frozen out from the start, I mean the detonation of the landmarks, the erasing of the boundaries, the ripping up of the guardrails. The delegitimizing of the entire American Experiment, and the elevation of Marxist booshwa to the level of religious doctrine. 

    We stood for Western Civ and welcomed as allies those who had different policy views but held fast to our exceptional endeavor. We defended the center. 

    • #18
    • October 30, 2020, at 11:12 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  19. aardo vozz Member

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Do mandatory mask mandates originate in the Department of Redundancy Department?

    Can you repeat that please?

    • #19
    • October 30, 2020, at 11:14 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    We stood for Western Civ and welcomed as allies those who had different policy views but held fast to our exceptional endeavor. We defended the center.

    @jameslileks We have indeed defended the center to protect classical liberalism. But I think there is a more shrug-of-the-shoulders that goes with the political right when it comes to shrieking by the left about inclusiveness and tolerance – because, yes! Who’s against all that?! We can be nice! Where it gets troublesome to the point of crisis is when those words are used as sharp, pointy sticks to keep us impotent. It never ends with being simply tolerant. It ends with forced compliance and acceptance (or renouncing values and truths). We’ve been putting the culture wars in the rumble seat for decades, now it’s what drives the car.

    • #20
    • October 30, 2020, at 11:26 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  21. I Walton Member

    So we should wear masks when we’re in public places and try to avoid crowds. OK. That’s easy. Now why have we given all levels of government more power?

    • #21
    • October 31, 2020, at 5:53 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker

    I Walton (View Comment):

    So we should wear masks when we’re in public places and try to avoid crowds. OK. That’s easy. Now why have we given all levels of government more power?

    Accommodation is not enough. With the left and an unaccountable government it never is. 

    • #22
    • October 31, 2020, at 6:14 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker Coolidge

    Jenna thank you for the wonderful essay on the non conformist being needed.

    I loved the portrayal of Muffy’s owner, and the pate and the masks.

    Someone on twitter stated last week “There never was a lockdown. Merely a group of Elites who were able to work from home & let lower classes of people spend all day delivering things to them”

    Also I too noticed the lady in Italy screaming at her politicians who are depriving her of hr life in order to save her life.

    If you have not already joined the group COVID 19, I wish to invite you. It features the odds and ends of that discussion which by themselves might not be significant enough to make into a full article on ricochet, but which add up to quite a bit of knowledge on the situation we are faced with.

    • #23
    • October 31, 2020, at 2:02 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker

    CarolJoy, Thread Hijacker (View Comment):

    Jenna thank you for the wonderful essay on the non conformist being needed.

    I loved the portrayal of Muffy’s owner, and the pate and the masks.

    Someone on twitter stated last week “There never was a lockdown. Merely a group of Elites who were able to work from home & let lower classes of people spend all day delivering things to them”

    Also I too noticed the lady in Italy screaming at her politicians who are depriving her of hr life in order to save her life.

    If you have not already joined the group COVID 19, I wish to invite you. It features the odds and ends of that discussion which by themselves might not be significant enough to make into a full article on ricochet, but which add up to quite a bit of knowledge on the situation we are faced with.

    Thank you for your kind words, and how right you are about the elites and the lockdown. I wasn’t aware of the COVID forum – I’ll have to check it out when I’m not so depressed about the current state we’re in (and headed).

    • #24
    • October 31, 2020, at 9:14 PM PDT
    • 1 like