Friday, July 16, 2021

We Have Identified the Virus - And It Is Us

How long after the Covid 19 pandemic ends will we still be finding discarded masks littering the ground?

It's probably an impossible question to answer, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing them for a long time to come. Every time I go for a ride (or a jog, or a walk . . .) I'll see them everywhere I look -- soggy, dirty, and gross -- on the sidewalks, streets, and grass.

Just one of a dozen or so that I spotted
on my ride today.

I should emphasize that the pandemic is far from over, but it's hard to tell from looking around at people shopping or dining out. I still wear a mask when I go into a store, but often I'll be the only one. I've had the shots - but many people still haven't, and cases are actually rising again. Needless to say, new cases and deaths are rising the most where vaccination rates are the lowest -- that's not a coincidence. As soon as the pandemic (even just the belief in the pandemic), and the wearing of masks, or getting a vaccine, became cannon fodder in the culture wars - a declaration of one's political alignment - the idea of "getting back to normal" became an illusion. If all these anti-vax folks were only taking themselves out of the gene pool, I'd say good riddance - but unfortunately, it's not just themselves they're putting at risk. All those folks who can't get a vaccine because of a medical condition, or age, or whatever - they're at risk too. And the more people pass on the infection, the greater the risk becomes that new variants will emerge - and eventually one or more of those could render the vaccines useless. We still have a long way to go to get "back to normal."

Then again - is "normal" really something we should be aiming for?

Like I said - I still wear a mask when I'm indoors with strangers. The risk of infection for a vaccinated person is low, but it still happens. But I can't imagine even for a moment taking that mask off when I get outside, and tossing it on the ground. Even if it ripped, or became otherwise useless, I can't imagine doing that. Then again, I also can't imagine tossing any kind of garbage out on the ground that way, but on any bike ride, I'll see all kinds of litter along the side of the road. Fast-food bags and packaging, plastic soda bottles, cans, drink cups, and cigarette packs (and butts, of course) make up the most common items. In the past few months, though, face masks have joined that list.

Tossing trash on the ground - whether it's a drink cup, an empty cigarette pack, or a medical mask - refusing to bear even the slightest inconvenience for the good of our neighbors, refusing to get a shot to help stem a pandemic, driving a hulking gas-guzzling SUV as we see the west burning up, watering lawns as reservoirs dry up -- these things might seem unrelated, but I figure it's all connected. They're all manifestations of a kind of selfishness, and they're all like symptoms of a disease. A virus, if you will. And the virus is us.

Sorry if this all seemed pretty negative. It's all just some thoughts I was having on my bike ride this morning.


  1. Saw a funny thing this week. Two store workers came outside for a smoke break by the bike rack, one of them picked up a few bits of fast food wrapping and put them in the bin while he smoked, then dropped his butt on the ground, stubbed it out with his shoe and went back in.

  2. Disposed masks in the gutter reminds me of car mounted American flags lying in the gutter months after 9/11. Nothing screams patriotism like an American flag lying in the gutter getting washed down the storm drain. Perhaps that is a metaphor to something... perhaps.

  3. You next need to ponticate on cigarette butts.

  4. Love the Pogo reference: "We have met the enemy, and he is us".

  5. Hear! Hear! I completely agree with you. I recently discovered a 67-year-old colleague at work (a community college) is refusing to get the vaccine. When students come back this fall, he's going to be a sitting duck. What is this world coming to?

  6. Selfishness is just a manifestation of the American ideal that the individual is everything. It was going on before the pandemic and it will keep going on long after you and I have moldered in our graves.

  7. I no longer wear a mask.
    The benefits of living in an upper-middle class neighborhood in the Socialist Paradise of the Cuty & County of Denver

  8. People have been trained to feel fearful and anti-social during this pandemic. They have also been conditioned to mistrust nature and the natural processes of design and healing. The virus is most definitely *not* us. Rather it may be found in those forces that have infected us with so much unreasoning fear, mistrust, and disregard of nature.

  9. I live in Vermont, which is one of the safest places in the country right now in terms of Covid transmission. I recently started masking up again when I go into stores. It's not out of fear, but out of concern that I might bring the virus home. My wife and I were both vaccinated months ago, but she is immune suppressed, and I don't think anyone knows the extent of the risks these folks face from the desease. I've already lost me father to the desease, and I feel it is only wise to do what I can to keep it from spreading.

    I don't write this as an excuse for why I decided to be one of the few who are wearing a mask in the store, just to point out that people make their own decisions and it's probably rare that the deciding factor is "fear". I'm ex-Army, and I mix it up with crazy, distracted, and inept drivers almost every day on my road bike. Don't talk to me sbout fear. These days, if I feel fear, it's probably because I'm about to miss a real deadline--that will keep me up at night. One thing you learn in the military is there is a huge difference between being afraid of danger and not inviting danger. Fear serves no purpose in terms of completing the mission, and neither does increasing risk.

    Lately, I've been thinking of how the pandemic galvanized the public into a common purpose in a way not seen since WW2. In wartime, there is always a lot of talk about the "Fifth Column", or those embedded within the society who are working against its wartime goals. It is ironic that in this modern equivalent of war, that we have such a strong and visible fifth column who are wrapping themselves in the flag and claiming they are the "patriots", while actively working to keep us from achieving victory.

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised. After all, i had a loud pickup roll coal as it went by, but not so thick that I couldn't see tha US flag on one side and the F___ Biden flag on the other. Obviously, this guy feels that it's the sign of a patriot to squander limited resources, while anti-patriotic to conserve them by cycling to work, or probably in doing anything else that might actually protect this beautiful country. I don't let these people bother me, and I don't find them worth engaging. On our annual Green Up Day, that will be me walking the ditch and picking up their discarded Budweiser cans and Skoal tins. I won't be picking up their discarded maks bacause, like seat belts, they don't wear them.

  10. Totally agree, it seemed we had this virus on the run but the folks that won't take the shots for whatever reason (medical exempted of course!) have made this thing stronger and coming back with a vengeance so it's looking like what ever was your "normal" pre-pandemic may NEVER return, it's just selfish and SAD, JMHO. have a excellent day, RIDE ON! :)