Sunday, April 05, 2020

Responsibility? Or Nothing At All?

Wendell Berry wrote, after 9/11, that the event would be a break point in our history, an even that would make us at least reconsider our faith in technology turned against us with such catastrophic results. As it turned out we attacked Afghanistan and then Iraq, and spent little time in the self-reflection Berry thought we would be forced into. 20 years later and our only use for the event is as a comparative to the number dead in New York City from the coronavirus. It was easy enough to avoid self-examination; we blamed an external enemy.

Who will we blame for this national catastrophe? The virus that originated in Kansas in 1918 was named “Spanish.” Will history remember this as the “Chinese virus”? Perhaps.  But what will we say about how we responded to what was so widely predicted? Our culture told us it would happen. Our experts told us it would happen. Our government told us it would happen. Will we learn from it? Or run from our responsibilities again?

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