Sadness is when you only need a few coins for a coffee and the machine does not accept bills. 2020 is something like that.
In just a century, we’ve gone from the happy ’20a to the doomed ’20s. Almost everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, but do me a favor: Don’t turn to heaven and exclaim, “What else could happen this year?” There are still a lot of awful things that can happen. Don’t forget that Biden and Harris intend to enter the White House. Do you remember “The Phantom of the Opera”?
According to the latest Gallup poll on mental health in the United States, the pandemic is making us sadder.
There are still 34 percent of those surveyed who say that their mood is excellent, and I wonder if they took a breathalyzer test before the survey. Be that as it may, surely those highly motivated types are all on Instagram posting things like “No one can hurt me without my permission” (nonsense from Gandhi), “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve” (Napoleon Hill’s ostentatious lie) or “Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan” (anonymous nonsense).
In any case, if we look at the mood of the bulk of the population, experts predict that the next epidemic that we will have to face will be psychiatric.
It’s no wonder. Our way of life is ruined, at least temporarily, and most of the fun things we used to do aren’t so much fun with a mask and social distancing.
I’m thinking of painting coral with the brush in your mouth or arguing with a neighbor on the elevator. Instead, we always have our hands covered in the only type of alcohol that you can’t mix with Coca Cola and drink it, we have a million tedious meetings via Zoom every day and we have to keep the same distance from the beautiful girls as from the ugly ones — that is to say, too much.
Perhaps that is why, in the surveys, singles are the ones who are most saddened by the health crisis.
After the medieval Black Death, the streets were filled with beggars and people dressed in rags and humble clothes; some because they had nothing, others out of depression and some out of fear of appearing wealthy in a time of hardship. In those grim scenes that Alessandro Manzoni described so well that we can see a current reflection of our own cities.
Even more devastating is finding out about the bankrupt businesses, the closed bars and the friends who are gradually increasing the unemployment figures. More unemployed, more misery and more hopelessness will bring a plague of psychiatric conditions and will also encourage violence, crime and robberies, as has happened before in almost all major crises.
The World Economic Forum estimates that about 30 percent of small businesses in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and Boston have closed. In places like San Francisco or New Orleans, the figure is close to 50 percent.
And thank God that the socialists are not ruling yet, because it will be a heroic act to keep up a small business when they start to choke you with taxes, calling you a “wicked rich person,” “capitalist pig” and those other motivating slogans with which the left is used to promoting employment and wealth.
There must have been a year worse than 2020 to live through, but right now I can’t think of any.
Perhaps year 536, when the sky darkened and a terrible winter brought famines and crises throughout the world. Or year 541, with the bubonic plague. But back then people were dying from any trivial thing and no one thought it too serious.
Instead, in 2020 we had been led to believe that nature, medicine and life were at our feet, that we could do everything. Shortly before the pandemic, Sunday magazines even ran reports about the possibility of becoming immortal, as if paying taxes for sixty or seventy years wasn’t enough.
“We will live a hundred years,” they said in thick headlines where they now say “let’s see if we can stay alive for the next 24 hours.” In a way, the reigning stupidity of our century was crying out for a little humility cure.
Looking back, from the detailed study of the consequences of the Black Death some promising conclusions can be drawn, even in this context of general sadness.
We know that after the 14th-century pandemic and the collateral miseries that it left behind, there was a huge explosion of consumption, driven by a kind of desire to live, to take advantage of the time we have left, with a renewed awareness of the transience of our time on earth.
In other words: The survivors went mad with joy and rushed to live. If that repeats now, there is still hope: Our economic recovery could be much faster. Nobody is capable of squandering dollars as hard, fast and wildly as a citizen of the 21st century. I’d volunteer for that vaccine.
This article first appeared on The Western Journal en Español.
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