Hard times need good songs. The Great War had “Over There.” The Great Depression had “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.” World War II had “We’ll Meet Again.”
And now, with Covid-19 roaring back, it feels like we need an anthem too. I nominate “Wise Up,” by Aimee Mann. The song came back to me yesterday, just after I canceled the family vacation rental I’d booked for a week in September in Seaside, Ore.
I know; the song was written in the ‘90s. But like everything sad these days, it seems pretty apt in 2020:
It’s not going to stop / ‘Til you wise up
I think she was talking about substance abuse, but it sounds kind of like the Einstein quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Which aptly summarizes the National Strategy since April: Ignore it. Transitioning in July to National Strategy 2.0: Ignore it some more. Let it burn. Let it consume the old and the weak and the merely unlucky. Since we’re a nation of 330 million and total infections are about 1 percent of that, this may take awhile.
Or, we could just wise up.
We know it’s possible for governments to contain and eventually diminish this virus; many other countries have done it and others are getting there. They’ve proven you can have a functioning economy and still dampen the fire of infections. But it takes time, and it takes leadership, and — sorry to all the Karens rampaging at Target — it definitely takes a certain amount of mask-wearing.
Unfortunately we’ve wasted a lot of time, and the leadership prefers to golf and tweet racist memes. The masks, well, we may finally have enough of those, but no consensus on wearing them. Thanks to the aforementioned leadership.
Problem is, the viral reservoir is now much larger than in March, and thus far more difficult to contain. And our biggest obstacle remains us: being America in 2020, a country where a third of the population is in thrall to a man whose personal brand is never wising up to a damned thing. So really, who knows how this will end?
I thought I was handling it all with admirable stoicism, but yesterday it kind of hit home. It’s been about a year since I was with the family in person. Travel risk seems unlikely to ease by then, or for many months after. We’ll meet again, just not in September. None of us brothers are getting any younger.
Even worse: Way too few of my fellow Americans are getting any wiser.