Living with Coronavirus
Sunday November 7thth, 2021
This week the believers in Q-Anon gathered in Dealey plaza in Dallas, where JFK was assassinated, to await the return of JFK Jr., deceased now nearly twenty years. In their conspiratorial belief system Q-Anon believers thought JFK Jr. has been faking his death for twenty years, was working in secret for Donald Trump, and his public re-emergence would launch the re-instatement of Trump as President. Following that re-instatement, a “round-up” of Satanic cannibal pedophiles composed of celebrities and leading Democrats would be undertaken by Trump as President with JFK Jr. as his new vice president.
JFK Jr. never showed up.
To most Americans the failure of a person, dead for twenty years, to appear, would be expected. However this is not true for those “true believers” in Q-Anon, they waited all day convinced JFK Jr. would return, having faked his death for twenty years. Understand that this JFK Jr. fiasco is but a drop in the bucket of Q-Anon beliefs.
How did so many Americans come to believe such outrageous things? I have a one-word answer for you.
The Q-Anon “Believers” overlap with staunch Christian “Believers”, with many of the latter group composing the former group. That is a large swath of Q-Anon “believers” were Christian “believers” prior to the existence of Q-Anon. Others who are blatantly not “Christian”, like the Q-Anon Shaman, are nonetheless “believers” in God. It might even be true that the Q-Anon “shaman” sees himself as a non-denominational Christian. I do not know the man personally, but I believe he was praying with other Christians at or in the Capitol building on January 6th, so why he calls himself a Shaman makes no sense to me.
In Christianity and many religions, faith is believing in what you cannot see. It is trusting in God no matter the circumstance, no matter the lack of evidence for such belief. It is believing, as you were taught, despite any and all contrary evidence. Having faith is seen as a positive virtue.
I disagree. I have written and published a longer work on the problem of faith in a piece titled “Rose Colored Glasses”, I believe it exists on my WordPress account still. Faith in the modern American Christian is belief without evidence and belief in spite of contrary evidence. It is eschewing critical thought on any matter of faith. Christians are often taught not to think too deeply, but instead to have faith in God’s will and plan for their lives.
Faith is not limited to Christianity. Most religions rely heavily upon faith. Many “spiritual” non-religious people brim with faith in a “God of their understanding”. People raised in these religions and people who embrace a life of faith outside of religion all share a similar world view. A world view colored by their beliefs. Beliefs which can and do color real world perceptions.
What is dangerous is that people with faith can become convinced, by faith and trust in authorities, of all sorts of vile things, and even see those things as good. History is rife with examples. The torturers in the Inquisition thought they were doing God’s good work with Iron Maidens and thumbscrews. That motif has been repeated again and again, in many faiths, not just Christianity.
When a person becomes convinced by faith, they do not need evidence or reason to justify their actions. Instead, they rely on their beliefs, their “faith”. Millions of Americans, right now, believe that the election was stolen, by faith, as there is no evidence of any significant fraud. These people have been convinced that God is working through Q-Anon and Donald Trump, and they were primed to accept such radical beliefs by their world view. A world-view they, in most cases, were raised in. A world view ground into them week after week for their entire lives, to believe in the book and the preacher, with no evidence at all, just faith.
In short American Christians were primed for exploitation by their own religious beliefs; taught to trust in faith rather than confirm with evidence. This world view made them easy prey for the Q-Anon conspiracy. It has made them pawns in the political games of the GOP. Since the “base” believes readily without evidence, since they are taught to trust “righteous” authority, they simply accept the lies Trump has spewed. They see Trump as chosen by God for some unknowable purpose. Many try to understand that purpose and they fill in the blanks with what makes sense to them inside their faith-based world view. Q-Anon fed many believers an answer to that unknown purpose. An answer far too many were ready to accept, on faith.
Being exploited by the very authority they trust is not in that religious world view. Thusly Millions of Americans believe in BS about vaccines, about the last election, about other Americans, and even believe in Q-Anon. Inside Q-Anon you find little cohesion of beliefs. Beliefs are all over the map. People pick and choose those features of Q-Anon which support their pre-existing world view and adopt those beliefs. Since Q-Anon has become the bucket for all sorts of conspiracies, believers pick what they want out of that bucket and pay no mind to the rest. Some accept certain things and others accept different, even conflicting things. Failures of Q-Anon, like the failure for JFK Jr. to appear, where his father was assassinated no less, are whitewashed with the next big thing and forgotten.
God is never wrong, therefore it is our failed human endeavor to understand which is at fault.
The other day I heard a soundbite from Q-Anon. The idea expressed evokes emotions first and foremost, and then the Q-Anon movement exploits those feelings and people take actual actions on those feelings. They march, protest, post online, and fill the ears of anyone who will listen with their Q inspired gibberish, which to them is Gospel. Religion has taught them to believe first, proof of the assertion is not necessary at all. Faith makes them easy prey for political manipulation.
The soundbite, shouted by a Q-Anon believer as a cry to action, is as follows. “Every year 800,000 children disappear! We have to do something! Trump is going to end this evil Cabal!”
800,000 children disappear is the claim, but to this claim Q “believers” do not apply critical thought. The number certainly is vile, so I looked that up. It comes from the real fact that there are 800,000 or so reports of missing children, including all children under the age of 18, every year. Seems like a lot of reports, and a hell of a lot of missing kids, right?
First, that number is radically reduced if those children are under 12, further reduced if they are under 8. What is not included in the Q-Anon rant is the reality that 97% of all those reports are closed within 48 hours by the children being returned to the parents. That means 776,000 are returned within 48 hours, leaving 24,000 unaccounted for. The majority of that 24,000 are teens who ran away from home, and a small fraction are actual abductions. 24,000, while a large number, is nowhere near as dramatic as 800,000, and it is the drama which drives Q-Anon.
If you believe by faith, and are told by an authority you trust that a horrible thing is happening or has happened, you are much more likely to take some action to end that thing. Most Q-Anon believers are reasonably incensed by those 800,000 “missing kids”, which they believe by faith have been kidnapped, used for sex, and perhaps even devoured by cannibals. That notion is enough to make most people very angry.
The reality is a lot different, but the “believers” do not apply critical thought, and so they live in the BS, believing it by faith. The fact that it is not 800,000 but 24,000, and the reality that no evidence exists of any cabal at all, is not relevant to those who live by faith.
Faith has colored the pandemic response as churches proclaim all sorts of falsehoods about the vaccine, even touting it is the “mark of the beast”. Further politics and religion have become intertwined in the GOP, enough that many people feel that in order to be a good Christian they must be a “good” republican and have transferred some of their faith in God to a faith in the GOP, and a faith in Donald Trump. All of which the GOP and Trump are willing and able to exploit for political ends. As it stands about 1/3 of America itself believes “by faith” that the election was stolen, despite a complete lack of evidence.
That is a dangerous thing. In the very same way Christianity was used to support slavery and deride slavery during the Civil war. Both sides thought God was on their side, before and after the conflict. Yankees thought God had sanctioned their efforts at abolition, and Rebels thought “God works in mysterious ways”, and could not fathom why he allowed them to lose. Neither side’s religious beliefs had any evidence to support them, only claims and interpretations of scripture. A lot of people died for those beliefs and a lot of people killed others over those beliefs. All were Christian beliefs.
The Crusades, The Inquisition, the witch burnings, our own Civil war, the endless war in Northern Ireland, and even the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980’s are not aberrations in Christianity, but expressions of Christian Faith. Outreach efforts to the homeless, charities of all sorts, and holidays celebrated all over this nation are also expressions of Christian Faith. Religion and faith in particular, is the one thing that can make good people do evil things while believing they are doing “Gods good work”.
Take a look at this photo of “Good American Christians”.
Well, at least that is how those people saw themselves. History has judged them differently. Understand that this too is an expression of “Christian Values”. Religious beliefs can inspire people to do good, but it also inspires people to do things “by faith” which they see as good, but are nonetheless vile and evil. Even the Nazis wore belt buckles which read “God is with Us”.
No Bill, it’s not over yet
This week Bill Maher stated, once again, that the Pandemic is over with. That the outbreak of Covid-19, which became Pandemic, is over. That the outbreak is now endemic, and Covid will always be with us and we have to learn to live with it. He is correct in part; the Pandemic has become endemic. The Pandemic is not over with yet though.
As we speak there are still serious spikes, in Europe, in Russia, in China, and even here in Maine we have viral blooms. Further an endemic disease is a disease persistent in the population which is well under control; think the common cold or seasonal flu. Covid-19 has already infected the wild deer of north America. This gives the disease a space to live in, mutate in, and potentially jump back out of deer and into humans as a new variant of some type.
Covid is not going anywhere, it is here to stay.
To grasp why it is still a Pandemic it is necessary to understand that the determination of when the Pandemic is over is determined by the W.H.O., the World Health Organization. In planning for future possible pandemics, the W.H.O. created a series of phases, 1-6, for an influenza Pandemic. The world assumed that influenza was the most likely candidate for the next pandemic. Thusly in their own criteria the Pandemic would end when flu season ends, but Covid-19 is not seasonal.
These are the phases of future pandemics as written by the W.H.O.
Phase 1 no viruses circulating among animals have been reported to cause infections in humans.
Phase 2, an animal influenza virus circulating among domesticated or wild animals is known to have caused infection in humans, and is therefore considered a potential pandemic threat.
Phase 3, an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus has caused sporadic cases or small clusters of disease in people, but has not resulted in human-to-human transmission sufficient to sustain community-level outbreaks.
Phase 4 is characterized by verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause “community-level outbreaks”
Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region
Phase 6, the pandemic phase, is characterized by community level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region in addition to the criteria defined in Phase 5. Designation of this phase will indicate that a global pandemic is under way.
“The post-peak period, pandemic disease levels in most countries with adequate surveillance will have dropped below peak observed levels. The post-peak period signifies that pandemic activity appears to be decreasing; however, it is uncertain if additional waves will occur and countries will need to be prepared for a second wave.”-W.H.O.
As we can see already, we are past the second wave, and have seen waves here and there globally. I do not know when or if the W.H.O. will declare the pandemic over and determine that Covid-19 is now an endemic disease. I do not expect it anytime soon. The vaccines and the two new antiviral drugs will eventually drive the numbers down to a point where it is a manageable disease. At that point the W.H.O. will declare it to be an endemic disease.
The reality is that it may be well controlled here in the USA soon, but that is not true globally, and the W.H.O. is a global organization. Having the disease under control here in the states will not protect us from new viral blooms in spots of unvaccinated people, or from some new strain which develops between now and then. It also would not prevent a new strain emerging from bats, or deer, or your own housecat.
That is why I, months ago now I think, I stated that Covid-19 is an “Endemic Pandemic”, a persistent viral threat which may emerge again and again as mutations in the virus occur. It is quite possible that a new variant coming out of the deer populations next hunting season could infect hunters and start the whole thing all over again from scratch. A Covid-22 if you will.
Covid is the new reality Bill, and your quite correct in your assertion that we will have to learn to live with it. That also means we will have to learn to live with Covid restrictions and mandates from time to time as the situations merit. We may all have to have vaccinations every year for the foreseeable future. It does not mean we will return to the old normal, rather we will learn to live in “Covid normal”. The threat will be past when the W.H.O. eradicates the disease from all humans. I do not expect that to be soon, and in any case, the threat from new outbreaks will remain with us forever because it could jump out of bats, or deer, or your own housecat, back into the human population.
Total Global Vaccines administered 6,947,883,074 7,240,102,077
Gain of 292,219,003
Global Infected 246,522,160 249,657,900
7-day average 447,962 infections diagnosed daily –Up
Global Dead 4,997,245 5,046,870
7-day average 7,089 deaths daily –Down slightly
USA Infected 45,953,780 46,466,504
7-day average 73,246 infections diagnosed daily –Down slightly
USA C-19 deaths 745,670 754,311
7-day average 1,234 deaths daily –Down slightly
Maine Infected 104,259 107,772
7-day average 501 infections diagnosed daily –Up
Maine deaths 1,167 1,207
7-day average 5.7142 deaths daily –Down
The world held a conference about climate change called COP-26, but I agree with Greta. She called it a “greenwashing”, lots of “Blah, Blah, Blah” about setting new goals and making promises to keep them. The time for talk about what we will do in the future is past, we need to act now and powerfully to combat the warm up. I do not expect such actions, and in many ways I see no way for humanity to “Go Green” in entirety.
The hang up no one talks about is defense. Every nation has a defense, many have large standing armies. In America we have a large military and commit massive funds to that military every year, for our own defense. Try to understand that every aspect of defense is utterly dependent on fossil fuels. Weapons and weapons systems from tanks and jets, to computers and drones, down to every individual grunt and his weapon, are made via, and/or use, fossil fuels.
No nation is going to remove their defense, and these weapons are needed to defend themselves from others.
Also, as Bill pointed out this week, there is a disparity between the younger generations wanting a green future, and their willingness to do what it takes. As an example, Bill compared and contrasted Greta Thunberg’s Instagram with Kylie Jenner’s.
“Bill Maher delivered a blistering attack on Millennials and Gen Z, essentially calling them hypocrites for pretending to be woke while celebrating excesses that are destroying planet earth.
The “Real Time” host said the youngins have a choice … Greta Thunberg or Kylie Jenner, and Bill says the choice is clear because the 2 young women are polar opposites. He goes on to say it’s no contest, just on numbers alone. Greta has 13 million Instagram followers, while Kylie has an astonishing 279 mil.
Bill’s diatribe is blistering … he says the choice is between a model citizen and a model, and the latter blows the former out of the water. Maher concedes … Kylie has built an empire on her own, but she’s anything but a conservationist. He goes into her closet, and then says while Greta refuses to fly (to do her part re: the carbon footprint), Kylie refuses to fly commercial. His point is not to go after Kylie, but instead to call out her followers who act just like the boomers who have fucked up the planet.”–TMZ
As I hid out in my hilltop retreat, another 49,625 of my fellow humans lost their fight with C-19, of those 8,641 were my fellow Americans, and of those 40 were my fellow Mainers.