Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

This is the year of the rat …

About a month ago I started a journal to document the political events of 2020 as they happened. The first line is: “This is the year of the rat. How apropos.”

At the time, I thought the impeachment, the primaries, and the emergence of a Democratic nominee were going to dominate the year. I wrote my first entry before the stock market dropped precipitously later that day. Then, just three days in, the background noise about some weird virus leaped front and center when the stock market tanked again.

Today the Dow chart looks like a man diving off an Acapulco cliff.

Depending on how things evolve, I might publish the journal one day as a documentary record or a cautionary tale. Right now it’s focused on the coronavirus and daily life under social distancing. One day, God forbid, it could veer into what it’s like living under martial law …

I grabbed a cheap copy of Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year the other day to get into the groove of end-times journalism. It might prove too on point to actually read. The plague sounds worse than coronavirus to me, but interestingly, Defoe didn’t actually live through it. He was writing sixty years later.

We’re living this tale, in the flesh. At times it’s pretty scary. Usually just kind of unreal.

What I’m coming away with so far, as each day things get a little and sometimes a lot worse, is that our social, economic, and governmental structures are fragile. They’re so fragile that the failure of one element could easily unravel the whole thing, the same way a sweater will come apart if you keep pulling on that loose thread.

We see it already in the grocery stores, where, for some reason, people are hoarding everything from toilet paper to cocktail olives. The Senate is apparently going to pass an inadequate relief bill out of an abundance of political caution, so that the recovery, if and when it begins, will be as halting as the one following the Great Recession. At least, Mitch McConnell must figure, they’re maintaining the status quo in terms of the corporate/federal power structure.

But keeping a journal of all this makes me understand the importance of paying attention and not just retreating into fear or self-pity. I’m trying to keep an eye on different layers of things as the pandemic plays out, from macro to micro.

One micro detail, for instance, was that we heard a lot of semi-automatic weapon fire on private land across the river from our hike yesterday. Target practice.

Let that sink in a minute, and the fragility of order and security gets real in a hurry.

[Image by LoopZilla, via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.]

2 comments on “This is the year of the rat …

  1. kingmidget
    March 23, 2020

    You had to end it with the gunfire bit, didn’t you?

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 23, 2020

      Always end a chapter with something dramatic … 😉

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