New Story

While working on NewBook, which is now OVER 100,000 words, I was ambushed in early July by a shorter story that demanded to be written ASAP.  I couldn’t shake it off, and after my husband’s younger brother and his wife caught COVID-19, and after Melissa died after a long struggle in the hospital, and after more than a week of struggle with grief for  her and all the others who died in the US unnecessarily while callous politicians shrugged off the growing number of cases and deaths as  necessary to save an economy that was so unfair and so brutal to so many….I was able to write it.  It is now up on my website, with a link to your choice of formats on the front page, http://elizabethmoon.com

If you read it, and if it moves you, I do have a suggestion.  We need a list of these infants, children, men, and women…these children, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, employers, employees, who are so often not named…just numbers in a COVID dashboard on some site we can’t even be sure are including them all in the count.  We need to see them as people, people who breathed and then couldn’t, people with bodies, with families, with jobs (if they were old enough), people of all the diversity in this country, people whose contributions were known or unknown.  We need to hold those faces, those names, those stories up to the politicians who think they don’t really matter, who have shrugged off, and continue to shrug off the numbers as they rise and rise, on the grounds that *these* people aren’t as important as the numbers of the Dow-Jones, or employment.  The governors of states that closed late and opened soon, all those who insist our children must return to school so their parents can return to work…even though over 97,000 children have already tested positive in the last week to ten days.  We need to FORCE them to look at the faces, say the names, and push back against the notion that these deaths are a necessary *and acceptable* price to pay.

I have been writing over and over on FaceBook (not my favorite place, to be sure) that saving lives should be the priority, should *have been* the priority, over saving someone’s portfolio, or increasing the profits of businesses or that “sacred” economy that had continued to harm the nation.   I said, over and over, that PEOPLE made up the nation, that the nation had survived because even with a frayed and damaged social fabric, it was that fabric, the people and their connections to each other, not the GNP or the Dow-Jones or any other abstract number that made it capable of going on, and of greatness.  And it made no difference.  Writing and calling my Congressman and Senators, governor and lieutenant governor, made no difference.  They’re all committed to a white upper-class concept of what the economy is, and why it must be saves and human lives ignored.

So.  My “Bring Out Your Dead” is the old one…the real one…from back in real history that has become *now* history.  In my home county in South Texas, and the counties on either side of it, the pandemic rages not because it could not have been stopped…but because it was not “important” enough.   The people getting sick and dying from it weren’t important enough.   As a man named Van Gin, an “economist” in the Texas Public Policy Foundation (right wing think tank), the pandemic in Texas as a whole was killing “mostly the elderly and Hispanics” and thus not important enough.  Others have said much the same in other states.  It’s the old, the poor, the weak, the people who had pre-existing conditions, the people who lived in crowded housing…who were dying.   But they’re people, I keep saying.  They’re not abstractions, not numbers…they’re people. And that’s why the story was written, and that’s why I’ve been grieving since March when I realized how badly our governments, federal and state, were going to treat this, hoping they could have “business as usual” while the cases and deaths and complications grew and grew and grew.

17 thoughts on “New Story

    1. Patricia: Thank you for your kind words. I know it’s not just in my state or my country, and really not just in a pandemic…the privileging of money over human lives is pervasive…but the pandemic makes it even more obvious. But we are the poster-child for how NOT to respond, this time.

  1. Thank you for sharing the story. The ‘those people’ reactions are particularly infuriating when you take into account the reports that certain minorities are less likely to be able to be tested (similar to some of the voting issues) – https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/23/covid-19-racial-disparities-could-be-even-worse-than-we-think/ with link to Illinois stats – http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/covid19-statistics.

    Interesting opinion piece that talks about the rate of minorities following guidelines vs. whites and how the infection rates are not aligning … probably due to the systemic racism where the minorities are likely in closer housing and in front-line jobs. – https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/08/10/new-data-finds-black-hispanic-americans-more-likely-take-precautions-against-coronavirus/

    1. Thank you for the links. I don’t have a subscription to Washington Post and thus can’t read those articles, but from other sources know that for Texas, it’s absolutely true: Hispanics are 8 times more likely to die of COVID and I am sick and tired of people sneering at their “social behaviors” that they claim are the problem. In my home area of Texas, housing is *necessarily* crowded, they do ALL the dangerous jobs in direct contact with people who are known to have COVID (in medical facilities, such as there are) and in other public-facing jobs, including ones where mask wearing isn’t standard or in some cases allowed (construction, for instance.) They may also not have access to clean, uncontaminated water, they’re generally underpaid and the stores available to them may not carry the supplies it would take to stay safer. They often don’t have access to grocery stores with quality foods, besides not being able to *pay* for quality foods, which leads to being overweight because what’s available is cheap and tasty–sugar, fat, salt. (My excuse for being overweight…none.) As for who follows guidelines…it’s certainly the white people who make a big stink about a waitress wearing a mask or fast-food server or someone in a store asking them to put on a mask, like that woman who knocked the older lady down and broke her leg. That scumdog Alex Jones was ranting around Austin today with a bullhorn saying the pandemic was a hoax.

  2. Elizabeth, I once had the opportunity to talk with a special forces veteran about death. I asked him what he thought when he saw the dead on a large battlefield. He said he always wondered how many potential Mozarts and Einsteins had been killed. Reflecting on his answer I marvel at how “color blind” his mind was and how incredibly foolish our country as a whole has become.

    1. Thank you for this comment. Yes, the great composers, musicians, artists, sculptors, mathematicians, biologists…but also the mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, children…the links and crosslinks that make any culture, any nation, a whole “thing”.

  3. Hi – this just in – there is an interesting book on Project Gutenberg – The Horse and His Rider, by Francis B. Head. Written more than a hundred years ago, it presents an interesting view.

  4. Hi – second book on Project Gutenberg: The Horse’s Friend ,   The Only Practical Method of Educating the Horse and
                  Eradicating Vicious Habits By O. S. Pratt”

  5. A powerful and moving story. I’m tearing up again just thinking about it. Thank you!

    Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss.

    (And thank you for baking cookies with me, nearly 25 years ago now. I needed that support then, after my own loss.)

  6. I just found this site. Thank you for the gift of all your writing.

    Thank you, too, for insisting that our lives are more important than an economy which only benefits the wealthiest, that all our lives are more important.

    Please don’t believe that your advocacy is in vain. I think we give each other strength to keep going, maybe especially when nothing changes.

    Glad to know you have another book on the way. I look forward yo reading it.

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