My 92-year-old mother in Italy lives alone and has been on lockdown for six weeks unable to see her other two sons, grandchildren, and friends.
She is very autonomous and sharp. Follows the news closely and tries to get as much information about the state of the U.S. since she is worried about me.
When this whole crisis started she was the one who was trying to give me strength.
The first thing she said was: “I lived through WW2 for four years, this kind of living is very familiar to me with a few differences: a) we had very little food, b) we knew when the bombs were coming because an alarm would go off and we would run to the bunkers or shelters, this virus is like invisible bombs, c) after the raids were over we would go back home hoping it was still standing and we could even socialize a bit. I survived, you will too.”
We talk on the phone two or three times a week and every time she comes up with something that makes me wonder. Here are some of the things she has said to me in the last several weeks. It is almost a sort of thinking out loud, a stream of consciousness:
1. The virus left Wuhan and spread worldwide but it did not reach Shanghai nor Beijing, can you explain that?
And... it doesn't seem to have afflicted China's allies North Korea or Russia much, strange.
2. China's stock market did not collapse the same way it did in Europe and the US, I am sure they are buying very cheap stocks everywhere.
3. Their economy is now booming with mass production of any type of product and the infected world is forced to buy from them, no competition, they are profiting from this invisible war. They are laughing at your President's tariffs, something doesn't add up son, and by the way: Bats have been around since the beginning of time, why did this kind of disease show up now? Could it be biological warfare?
And there are more observations that I will not print because they might sound preposterous but sometimes they keep me up at night swirling in my brain in search of an answer that doesn't come.
I am not predisposed to paranoia, my main concern is the incompetence of our government, the lies, the denial, the total disregard for human suffering, the lack of empathy, pettiness, inefficiency. It is a despicable spectacle that makes a mockery of the presidency.
It is almost criminal intent. The only thing we will be number 1 at is going to be the number of deaths by the time this is over.
Going back to my mother the last thing she said yesterday before hanging up was: “Complacency cripples. Hubris kills. And blindness without guidance usually leads one into the nearest wall if not hurtling down a flight of stairs."
Stay home, stay safe, do your part and don't expect help from the Insouciant in Chief.