I haven’t managed to post these every day. Sorry. But if you want daily cards, you need a reader who doesn’t have ADHD! Likewise, if you don’t want to read a long, rambling, post, go somewhere else, because this one is a long one.
Be careful what you wish for. We’d all, even introvert me, like to get back to normal. I miss seeing tarot clients in person. I miss telling you to shuffle your own cards so the results can be your own fault! 🙂
But pretending we’re not in a pandemic is how the president got himself and many of the people around him sick. He says he had to do it because when you’re a leader you have to face things. But that’s ludicrous. You face a situation by dealing with it. Not by pretending that a real danger is not real.
When FDR said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he was referring to the economy and to the great Depression. Did you know that? I always thought he was talking about going to war against Hitler. But that was several years later. This quote is from his inaugural address in 1933.
You’ll note that FDR didn’t tell us to pretend that there was no Depression. He did not simply deny the experience of the average person. Instead, he told us to face the gravity of the situation without fear.
When I checked the context for this quote (do you not do that? people, always, always, ALWAYS, check the context before quoting someone, PLEASE), I realized I had never read FDR’s inaugural address. But he says a lot that is relevant to us today. “…our distress comes from no failure of substance,” he tells us. “Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed.” Yes, he was referring to the stock market and the crash, but, consider: plenty is STILL at our very doorstep. We have not had a drought. We have the food to feed everyone and we have enough housing to house everyone. We just haven’t had the wits to figure out how to distribute food and housing and health care properly.
Well, we have to face that problem, and start working on it. Wishing it wasn’t true, wishing that our old methods had worked, won’t help us.
Roosevelt goes on:
These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.
Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources….
It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly….
…we address ourselves to putting our own national house in order…. I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first.
The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in all parts of the United States—a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.
In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others—the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.
If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.—Franklin Delano Roosevelt, first inaugural address, March 4, 1933
Yes, we used to have presidents who talked like this, presidents who spoke for the purpose of inspiring the nation, presidents who actually seemed to feel a sense of public duty and service.
What would we do today, if we were putting first things first, as Roosevelt advises? We would immediately take all the actions that epidemiologists are telling us will reduce the spread of disease, for one thing. I’ve heard many complaints that “oh, we did that and it didn’t work”–oh, I’m sorry, you thought we did that? No. We did not. We took a privileged group of people who could manage to work from home (including me) and people who could manage to take time off, and shut those people off safely, while insisting that other people who could not afford to make such a change continue to work. Even that one change made a difference, but we didn’t do it all at once, every state and local community made their own choices about what to do when, and when it started to seem like it was helping, many so-called leaders simply declared the pandemic over and began pushing reopening. We then reopened all over.
This is not a case where doing something the half-assed way (which is what we did) at least gets you half-assed results. No, this is a case where doing something the half-assed way gets you into a situation where you get to start over FROM THE BEGINNING.
And, I’m honestly not impressed by the argument that reopening is the only way to feed and house people. It isn’t.
Nor am I impressed by the argument that the only way you can get wealthy people to help their neighbors is by waiting on them and by finding ways to get them to buy stuff that they don’t need. You know (and I’m speaking only to people who can afford to do this), you COULD cook your own food for yourself and give the restaurant owner the difference between the money you would have spent eating at the restaurant and the amount you spent to eat at home. And instead you say to me, “Well, why would I do that? I need the enjoyment of watching someone risk their life to bring food to me at a table and take the dishes away so I won’t have to wash them.”
You could also (and I’m again only speaking to people who could afford to do this), refrain from buying new clothes this year, wear the ones from last year, and give the money you would have spent buying stuff to people in need. I can’t fathom why you wouldn’t since if you’re social distancing, do you really even need new clothes?
Likewise, your president could take a selfie video in the hospital and do without camerapeople and not have to take a victory lap around the block in a limo while putting Secret Service agents at risk by making them ride in the car with him. And instead you say to me–I don’t even know what you say to me to justify that. Yeah, his selfie video wouldn’t look professional. But who the fuck cares?
Stop wishing for things to get back to normal and address the fact that they aren’t normal. Yes, we’re more isolated than we used to be–like the American pioneers that FDR refers to. If you were to ask a pioneer if they could handle making the sacrifice of wearing a mask to protect a neighbor, the answer would be yes. In fact, I believe they’d find it quite odd that you’d refer to something so simple as a sacrifice. Yes, pioneers often did live quite isolated lives for long periods of time in which yes, they had to homeschool their kids. Isolation is not quite as unprecedented a problem as we all seem to think it is.
Neither is poverty, but unlike isolation, poverty absolutely requires a solution. During the Depression, during the period right before Roosevelt was elected, wages dropped in half. It’s reasonable to say that families were suffering economically then every bit as much as they are now, if not more. We should be looking back to those times and learning from them. Under the New Deal, the federal government created the Civilian Conservation Corps to put people back to work, to alleviate unemployment. They didn’t just hand out money, but they built roads and buildings that contributed to the life of the nation and the economy indirectly over the years that followed. Yes, the government ran up a lot of debt during that period. Yes, that’s a problem.
But we can face that problem or we can choose not to face that problem. We can try to come up with solutions or we can just ignore the whole issue and hope it goes away.
Ignoring problems is not how my grandparents, who lived through that era, operated, though, and I’m betting it’s not how your grandparents operated either. So WHY is it how we operate today?
We have two choices, and we probably need a solution that combines them: we can donate to charity in massive never before seen amounts, or our government can pitch in to make sure everyone is fed, housed, and provided with health care, and we may not be able to do that without finding a way to (gasp) redistribute some of the wealth.
I know you don’t like that solution.
But if you don’t, then come up with something better. Because it’s not going to come from wishing.
Also, personally, I let my clients pay me half of my fee if that’s what they say they can afford, and they don’t have to tell me that’s what they’re doing or prove to me that they deserve it, all they have to do is type the word COMPLICATED into the discount code spot in my online scheduler. That’s not a covid-19 policy; it’s the same policy I have had since late 2019, when I decided to give up on offering this discount and that discount for everyone I suddenly thought of who might be in need and just combined them all under the one discount code, COMPLICATED. I’m not saying that so that you will hire me (though I’m happy to read for you); what I’m saying is: if you are a business owner, do something like this for the people in need around you if you can.
People can’t live on wishes, and you definitely can’t live on those wishes that are potentially lethal.
Be careful what you wish for. In fact, maybe just stop wishing and do the work to change the society.