I promised to return to the social and emotional analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic and all its ramifications over a year ago (ed... now almost two) at the end of this post: The Right to Our Own Feelings Part 1: Things Fall Apart. I started writing this sequel almost immediately but it has been lost in multiple reboots, both literal and metaphorical, since then. I've re-read part one and feel I was at the top of my game. I didn't have the heart to add to it for the longest time, because of the complex cocktail of emotions that constitute my new normal. And this post itself was started and stopped, repeatedly, so long ago that the writing of it has itself become a mental block, which I need to address in some way before returning to normal blogging at all. So here is my (5th?) attempt to finish part 2. The first 4 1/2 paragraphs were written mostly in 2020 but edited many times. (CarpeLanam, April 8 2022).
"Solvitur scribendo" is the Latin phrase that came to mind recently as I was doing my Life Update post after the blog suffered long neglect. It means "it is solved by writing," and I thought I was being very clever and original in my riff on "solvitur ambulando," the sage advice of St. Jerome (or was it St. Augustine, or Diogenes?) to go take a walk. (THAT advice helped me amazingly during bouts of writer's block in my college years, as I would walk about campus with that faraway look in my eyes, lips moving as I mentally constructed outlines, and phrases, even entire paragraphs, fell into place). Turns out, I'm not the first to have coined the scribendo variant, but in hindsight I'm amazed it isn't more commonly seen. It essentially is an acknowledgment of the fact that journaling is therapeutic. We get clarity from the writing process. Truth may bubble up to the top, or at least we get a better perspective on a messy situation. It takes time to form words and the passage of time, or the writing process itself, may change us.
Well, there is also the fact that the whole world has drastically altered, for the very much worse, since Friday, March 13, 2020. And I'm not talking about the death tolls. I was so naive to think the high casualty numbers would be the worst to come from the pandemic! I now think the virus is the least of our problems as a country. We have a government that is actively opposing the constitutional freedoms it was sworn to protect. There is an uneasy, undeclared societal civil war in the air, and neighbors are turning against neighbors. Churches and schools were closed so long, our culture has experienced religious regression and educational collapse. Teachers, doctors, and journalists don't seem so trustworthy anymore. Crime is exploding and police are disrespected. Drug use and mental illness pose an increasing threat to social order. Social media, which used to be an outlet for the homebound and a link to distant friends, now actively censor viewpoints and people that tech overlords think are inappropriate. Christian memes are covered because of potentially offensive content; outspoken conservatives are banned outright or bullied until they give up.
And the people who are supposed to have our best interests at heart keep moving the bar in what has to be a deliberate attempt at control: Just fifteen days to slow the spread. China is our ally and if you suggest they released the virus intentionally you're racist. Once the high-risk and older populations are vaccinated, we can open up again. Sorry, you can't have a funeral service for your elderly relative, but George Floyd gets multiple. Kids are resilient, they'll be fine doing their learning in front of a computer screen. And when they come back to school, they have to wear masks all the time. Your kids are going to have to get tested twice a week if they want to play sports. But it's going to be fine, Congress just passed a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure bill. And socialism is the new infrastructure. Don't plan on traveling outside the country right now. But it's totally ok if the migrant trains come in, they aren't a threat. You're obviously racist if you think they are. And now everyone has to get vaccinated. You're the irresponsible one if you have reservations. You don't Trust The Science. Besides, it's mandatory. You don't want to be the ones we blame for the (check the list) omicron variant, do you? Well, even vaccinated people have to wear masks because they can catch it. If you have a small business, you have to enforce mask and vaccine mandates. If you don't, you'll be fined until you go out of business. This is just how it has to be. We know best. Just another few months to control the virus. Vax up everyone! Get your boosters and always remember, proof of vaccine is required if you want to keep your job. Be a responsible citizen: share you've been vaccinated on your social media accounts!
This is gaslighting. And it's being done by the leaders in our society, with the full cooperation of those who profit from it (the entrenched federal bureaucracy, big tech, big pharma, cultural Marxists and corrupt institutions like Planned Parenthood). It is evil. It is wrong. And the most perverse thing about it is that it's designed to make its victims think they are the ones with the problem.
If you have ever seen someone using this form of manipulation, you never forget it. Thirty-some years ago, I was with a group of young women who accompanied a friend to retrieve her dog from her ex's house. She had left in a hurry, afraid the verbal abuse would become physical, and she wanted moral support. I was really young. I knew about alcoholism in theory, but not Narcissistic Personality Disorder or gaslighting. She had timed it right - he had already had a few drinks that evening and was just off-balance enough that she could get the dog, put his leash on and lead him away, tight-lipped and focused. But it was truly chilling to see how he worked: verbally assaulting her, dishing out heaping servings of shame to her, but then turning on the charm toward us. That was my introduction to the fact that some people have a dangerously faulty wiring that compels them to belittle, manipulate and control others. And not just people. Morally bankrupt institutions and governments as well.
The experience also acted as, I guess, a kind of immunization against future gaslighting. Or maybe a booster shot. I grew up in the 70's as a preacher's kid, and there were plenty of Sunday School classes that warned you about all the creepy cults, and plenty of people I heard about who fell into their traps. Mr. Barrett, my Christian schoolteacher in 6th grade, read us a rather shockingly lurid true-crime book about the Jim Jones mass suicide cult in Guyana. I was naturally quite suspicious of strangers after being strongly warned about stranger danger as a young child trick-or-treating, and would never take candy from strangers, let alone get into a car with them. As an adolescent, I wondered, who would I ever follow into the unknown? I decided it would either have to be Jesus or someone sent by Jesus... but how could you be sure? Well, it's true there are many false teachers and many people who claim to have God's approval and do not. There are wicked people who use their power to abuse the trust of good people and do terrible harm. That is why the complicity of our government and big-tech overlords in shutting society down for their own profit is so hard to bear, and the censorship of dissent by media and social media is so disturbing.
But the preponderance of the evidence and the corroboration of multiple witnesses is always going to tend toward a confidence in the truth of the message. The arc of history is long, but it will tend toward overthrow of the revisionist historians and cult leaders. The fascist social influencers of the day may have America goose-stepping towards Gomorrah, but ordinary people using ordinary skills, who are skeptical about one-sided messaging and do even a little digging to clarify the narrative, will be the enlightened ones in the end.