It's hard when YW activities are moving toward being in-person. They said every other week would be a zoom meeting, but we have a three week stretch coming up of in-person activities. And tell me, how do teenagers "social distance" at a pool party? Are you telling me they're all going to just swim six feet away from anyone else? I've seen the pool; it isn't that big. How are you going to keep them from high-fiving each other during a bike/scooter/skateboard obstacle course in the church parking lot?
Masks are optional and not everyone attending these activities believes this virus is a thing. Inexplicably there is a large proportion of the population who believes that this virus is a hoax. And so how does one safely mingle with anyone now, let alone anyone who has not been taking precautions because they choose to believe otherwise.
I am heartened by the email we received from our bishop this morning telling us that we won't be returning to church in August due to the astounding number of cases we've been seeing. But perhaps we'll try for September (like, not us, but whoever wants to). He left us with these parting remarks, "I will share with you that what I am seeing in the hospital setting is very concerning regarding those ill with Covid and the overwhelming pressure it is placing on our health care system. Please protect yourself and your families."
I still don't understand how our youth are allowed to meet together at this point (most hospitals already dangerously full; our county's hospitals are projected to be "overloaded" by August 14).
And still people don't believe anything is happening.
My mom's coworker died of COVID-19 a few days ago. Several other coworkers have tested positive. My mom had contact with some of those people (so far she has tested negative and mostly she works from within her own little office, thank goodness...but still worrisome).
And still people refuse to take this seriously.
Andrew and I just finished watching Chernobyl, which had some beautiful lines for our times. The opening line of the series, which sets the framework for the underlying theme of corruption for the production is this: "What is the cost of lies? It's not that we'll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then?"
Masha Gessen, who wrote an article in The New Yorker about the accuracy of the film, says that "the Soviet system of propaganda and censorship existed not so much for the purpose of spreading a particular message as for the purpose of making learning impossible, replacing facts with mush, and handing the faceless state a monopoly on defining an ever-shifting reality."
I'm fairly certain that our society has been receiving a steady die of steaming bowlfuls of factual mush (though, like, honestly, I can't be entirely sure of that when there are so many lies to sift through, can I?).
How can so much mismanagement be possible? Or allowable?
I don't really know. But watching this series was so interesting (with ample fact-checking along the way, of course). In grade nine we spent a good portion of the year on a Russia—USSR—Russia unit but somehow (ummm, because I was 14?) I didn't piece together how close Chernobyl was to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. I mean, we talked about reasons why the Soviet Union collapsed—Gorbachev allowed for elections, for example, and campaigned for more openness (of the government to its people)—and we talked about Chernobyl (such a catastrophe), but I didn't ever piece together how closely revolution followed on the heels of this disaster.
The people were compliant, they were resigned to their fate, they knew they were swimming in a sea of lies, but they just kept on plodding through life until a problem too big to be ignored occurred. The government couldn't hide Chernobyl from the world—the radiation was settling in Sweden and Germany and other countries (including the United States) had satellite images of the huge mess they'd made—and they couldn't hide what had happened from their people. For the first time there was an undeniable tragedy unfolding, a tragedy the government couldn't "make better" or somehow "disappear."
So I turned to Andrew and said, "I wonder if Chernobyl was a major impetus for the dissolution of the USSR all of a sudden..."
He agreed that could certainly be the case. And this video made it seem like it certainly was—like the point in a Scooby-Doo episode when the mask is finally ripped off the bad guy. I don't know why I had never thought of that before. Maybe it was the dates flashing up on the screen the whole time. Or maybe it was that the idea of corruption being so obviously highlighted throughout the film. Whatever it was, I was pleased to see this quote by Gorbachev flash on the screen during the epilogue: "The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl...was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed."
Side note: Whenever I try to type Gorbachev I first type Gorbachew and I'm not really sure why, but I've had to retype his name several times so far.
I wonder how Gorbachev feels about what is happening in Russia today? I wonder if they have attained the openness he envisioned. Somehow I doubt it. I wonder what he thinks about the state of affairs in the United States today, how he views our government "transparency," this mess of porridge that is swallowing us whole like in the tale of the Magic Cooking Pot.