Frustration, fear beget fury

June 5, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Most people have a psychological “red line.” That’s the edge in your mind, your patience, tolerance, your ability to compromise – that’s the end of what you can or will stand.

Sometimes, we actually talk about it: “That’s my red line – don’t cross it.”

We say it and, I bet, usually, we don’t even know what we mean by it but I think there may be quite a bit of it going around at the moment. 

The problem is we don’t know what is happening and no one really knows what they’re doing. You can tell by the waffling of the politicians, torn between the agonizing need to release the economy from this stranglehold, and the numbers of infection rising, while testing is expanded and honesty is stronger about the results: 6.2 million globally; in Canada at 92,400 cases and, to the south of us, the United States at 1.87 million, with all expectation it will stand at 2 million by the weekend. 

So, warnings to the politicians about how easily this virus spreads, are confronting the urgency businesses feel about not going under because of it. Even as I watched the numbers on a website that tracks them in real time, they increased.

It’s a bore to go shopping – the only excuse to leave the house. The faces at supermarkets are tense with fear – of each other, of taking bags home – wipe everything down, drop your clothes in the washing machine. Wash your hands – have a shower – what else can you do to stay safe – to keep the family safe?

SARS held the world in its grip, from 2002 to 2004, with over 5,000 cases in mainland China but a fraction of that elsewhere: Canada was fifth highest with 251 cases. We lucked out with how it simply faded and Jean Chrétien had dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Toronto to prove it was safe to go back to Chinatown. 

Well, we didn’t shut down everything during the invasion of the Swine Flu in 2009 either, although there were doubts about being able to hold the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. Most people have been vaccinated against it since then.

For some reason, this new Coronavirus has us all by the throat. It is more insidious, more contagious – more frightening. When else have Canadians worn masks every time they go out in public?

When else has the entire world agreed on anything – especially shutting down the world’s economy? Not ever.

So: people everywhere are hunkered down in a paralytic state of obedience, also unheard of in our history – and the sheer frustration that they are and the fear that compels them to do so boils over and there are not enough consultants to stem the tide. An increase in domestic violence; huge alcohol consumption; people breaking the “rules” for a variety of reasons but, partly because they don’t believe it.

Then. A policeman in Minneapolis murders an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by pressing his knee on the man’s neck, while that man cried for his life. Someone took a video of the murder and the other cops standing around watching, apparently never thinking to haul the murderous police officer off George Floyd. 

And the country has gone mad – riots – serious riots – across the United States – their “red lines” well and truly crossed. Adding fuel to the fire is their President, Trump, with threats to set the American army on their fellow Americans, which order might very well cross a few more red lines.

It seems to me that Donald has longed for a real war since before his election – the ultimate proof of manhood, a war president, they’re the real heroes. 

He’s tried several times to get a battle going but he couldn’t even goad North Korea’s Kim Jung-un, that devil-may-care with the messy missiles that could reach the States, into an all-out shootout. Just some text-outs.

Still, look at how he has spent his entire presidency dividing his countrymen. Pitting them against one another, with carefully nurtured hysteria and a constant extolling of violence as a solution to social problems. How he has massaged racism at home and brought the international standing of America so low.

Now these riots, not simply because of the wanton callousness of one public murder of a black man by a white cop but because of all the others, those known and those unadmitted – because of the steady hounding of racism.

These riots – their ferocity and how widespread they are -– have come blasting out from under the tension and mismanagement of voluntary confinement that Donald has made worse every time he speaks or tweets.

He only has until November to start a war on one field or another – that’s a sure way to be re-elected – war presidents always get re-elected.

Even a civil war might be good enough.

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