I struggled with the separation of the ‘A’ and ‘M’ in the title of this piece. I admit, I was feeling more than a little Aesopian, but the cautionary tales spun by the master were, by sheer definition, fabulous, while I, like all of you, find myself grappling, day in and day out, with what we can merely hope will be historically chronicled as an abhorrent reality of whatever the opposite of Renaissance might be…Age of Stupid?
The Hare and the Tortoise, The Ant and the Grasshopper, The Farmer and the Snake, The Scorpion and the Frog, life lessons that have osmosed into our subconsciousness since the seventh century, BC. Perhaps the most common theme to these stories is that the behavioral nature of things should never be taken for granted. The deadliness of a snake or a scorpion or the unreliability of a braggard or slacker should never surprise when revealed as deadly or unreliable. So, how do you explain these times to your quarantined children or to one another for that matter, when the moral is that sometimes amorality rues the day?
In pre-pandemic times, (remember?), when greedy opportunists, religious zealots, bigoted nationalists and mis-wired Tea Partiers put their thumbs on the righteous calibration of our moral compass, corrections were made and the lessons of centuries of our collective humanity mostly won out. In the grey and coldness of the sun-blotted Trump Era, the snake, unsatisfied with eliminating one farmer at a time, has rallied every storybook villain to slash and scratch and destroy and now, murder, simply because that’s who they are, and that’s what they do. It may not be enough this time to be like the hard-working, fastidious ant or maintain the slow, steadiness of the tortoise. There’s been a shift in The Force, and Covid-19 just may be the catalyst that requires us all to choose sides based on line-in-the-sand options:
Taking a clean, deep, viral-free cleansing breath
Getting an “America First” facial tattoo