Lament for a Pandemic
As of my writing of this letter, there have been over 18,000 deaths in my state, 580,000 deaths in my country, and 3.1 million deaths worldwide related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, as I was telling my wife, it’s strange that there is little or no communal lament for the loss of so many people. The United States has experienced more than twice as many deaths from COVID-19 than World War II and is rapidly approaching the total death count of the bloodiest war for Americans: the civil war.
I’m not sure what the reason for this is, though I have some guesses. In war, our sons, husbands, and young fathers are the ones affected in the greatest proportion, but with this pandemic, the elderly are the greatest affected. Perhaps we simply feel the impact of the deaths less if it’s the elderly who die early. We certainly don’t view the elderly as the storehouses of wisdom and insight we once did. American culture, at least, idolizes youth.
It could be that we are so focused on how to “solve” the pandemic that we have not taken the time to feel the impact of those we have lost. Or perhaps we don’t care as much about the people who die as we do about our partisan understandings of the pandemic and our responses to it.