#43 Culling Elephants: The end of the world in 3 scenes.
It is exactly noon on a Saturday, and like "exactly noon" every Saturday, the tornado sirens scream -- a weekly test. Today it feels sinister. I hear the wind chimes in the backyard. The birds argue. My neighbor runs his shop vac. If I didn't know any better, I'd think everything was fine.
Sometimes when I watch "end-of-the-world" movies, I wonder why everyone is trying so hard to survive. Don't they know they're all going to die anyway? If I were to write an end-of-the-world screenplay, it would be very short. It would be 3 scenes. In Scene 1, something hideous arrives. In Scene 2, everyone starts running, In Scene 3, they stop and say, "Oh, fuck it." Credits roll as all of humanity poofs off the planet.
I am not a fighter.
(I'm not really a lover, either.)
(I'm a writer, i.e., an observer.)
I had a touch of the sads this morning. My son is at his dad's until we know for sure I don't have COVID-19. (No test results, yet.) I don't think I do, but what if? My fever (low-grade) and this cough have not budged. Where would I have gotten it? School? The gym? I don't know. Probably nowhere. I haven't seen my son since Tuesday. It doesn't feel right.
"Tell that to immigrant families separated at the border," you say.
I know. I'm sorry. I don't know what to do about any of it. We have ruined so much.
This morning I wondered if this was what the Bubonic Plague was like. Did people just sit around in their dirty homes waiting for Death to arrive and wipe out half their families?
In some parts of Africa, there are too many elephants. An over-abundance depletes vegetation and downs trees -- reducing food supply and habitats of other species. Disease spreads. In the 90's they culled herds (i.e., killed whole families) to control it, until conservation groups (understandably) protested. After they stopped culling, the population rebounded and rebounded and rebounded and... Now, in the name of protecting biodiversity, they look for non-lethal means to manage it (e.g., translocation and contraception), but nothing is as efficient as slaughter.
After a bout with the Sads, I read an article about the shortage of medical supplies -- ventilators, in particular -- and got a case of the Scareds. What if my son needs one? My sister? My parents? My nieces or nephews? My friends? A lump of panic formed in my throat. That's when I thought of elephants and culling.
With any big emotion, it helps to put on a science hat and zoom out. In the name of biodiversity, perhaps our herd is being culled. Although, if you look up the definition for culling, it includes some handpicking -- strategically snuffing out the bad apples so the good ones remain. When it comes to billions of humans, I suppose there are too many of us, and that we are too small for any of our deeds to be weighed or considered. The scythe sweeps through, and whoever has a neck out goes.
Depending on whose neck, it's harder or easier to stay science-y about it.
Do you know what I'm saying?
I'm saying, the realization that we're science and biology, part of a greater system, and that we're all going to die someday, is sometimes a little bit comforting.
I also know that I'm tired of feeling like ass. Quarantine isn't as fun as it used to be.