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.