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Archive for May 4th, 2020

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“Numbers do not feel. Do not bleed or weep or hope. They do not know bravery or sacrifice. Love and allegiance. At the very apex of callousness, you will find only ones and zeros.”

― Amie Kaufman, Illuminae

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Today is May 4th. By tomorrow, or even later today, the death toll from the coronavirus here in the US will hit the 70,000 mark. That 70K is a figure, according to the model used by the white house* to forecast the virus, was estimated to be reached on or around August 4.

We are a full three months ahead of this obviously faulty model’s schedule.

For the past month, we have averaged about 30,000 new cases and around 2,000 deaths per day. It has remained steady and is not moving in any sort of downward direction. Not even close to indicating the end of this first wave. And bear in mind that those figures come even while some states have tried to suppress testing as well as public reporting of the deaths caused by the virus there. The reality is that the actual numbers, both of those infected and those killed by the virus, are substantially higher.

What this means is that we have yet to even approach the midpoint of this event.

We have witnessed the white house* beginning to try to normalize these numbers, throwing out higher figures so that anything lower seems somehow better. They never attach faces or personalities to these numbers.

They only see and present them as numbers with the hope that the public will also begin to only view them in that way, as though these simple numbers are distant and totally unattached to their own very real lives. And so long as they see these deaths as mere numbers and not as flesh and blood, they will view these numbers as an acceptable normal.

Numbers are just symbols and tools to be manipulated. They don’t have lives.

Numbers don’t hold the door open for you or smile and wave as you drive by. They don’t bake you a cake. They don’t do you a favor or give you a hug. They don’t hold your baby or pet your dog or send you a card. Numbers don’t give you a hand when you need it. Numbers don’t cry at a sad movie or dance to a slow song. They don’t catch wedding bouquets or sob at a funeral. Numbers don’t beam with pride at the happiness of those they love.

Numbers don’t love, for that matter. Or hate.

Numbers alone simply do not do justice to the lives they represent.

There are going to be a lot more large numbers ahead of us. That is a certainty. And so long as the more selfish among us fail to see the real flesh and blood people represented by these numbers, so long as they feel it is their right to flaunt the small protections we have against this virus, these numbers will continue to grow. Their very actions against being required to sacrifice anything at all will prolong and expand this crisis, will grow the numbers.

We have become a selfish people, indeed. We see only what we want to see. Hear only what we want to hear. We live in an echo chamber of self that doesn’t have much room for the concerns of others outside of what they stack up to as numbers.

I don’t know how to end this diatribe this morning. There is no good way to end it. I am simply frustrated by the callous use of these numbers and the ugly selfish and stupid behaviors being displayed by those who do not recognize the humanity they represent.

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“[Dona Maria] saw that the people of this world moved about in an armor of egotism, drunk with self-gazing, athirst for compliments, hearing little of what was said to them, unmoved by the accidents that befell their closest friends, in dread of all appeals that might interrupt their long communion with their own desires.”

Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey

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