Warm War

A blog reader mentioned that he is wondering to what extent life will be altered by our experiences over the last year or so, and now I’m wondering, too. I have thought about the future now and again, not the particulars so much as the fact of it: no matter what happens with The Bob, our lives will be changed, it’s just that I don’t know — can’t know — how far reaching these changes will be.

It seems to me that the world will settle down eventually into new patterns, but again, there’s no way of knowing right now what those patterns — economic, social, political — will be. There’s also no knowing if those in power will ever let us know.

All of this rearranging of the world, our mores, what we’re willing to give up to for a facsimile of safety reminds me of a world war, because that is what happens during a world war. Everything is different, chaotic, but eventually life settles back into a new pattern, and younger generations never realize things were ever different. For example, think of all the millions of people who are alive today who have never experienced a world without airport security and checkpoints. They’ve never gone to the waiting room with their departing loved ones, never stood at the window waving good-bye as the airplane took off.

I’m sure, in that same way, upcoming generations will accept as right and proper whatever the world becomes after The Bob, because they won’t know anything else.

This obviously isn’t a hot war, with military conflicts killing off the young and strong. Nor is it a cold war being fought mostly with propaganda and fear, where countries are in a perhaps fatal stalemate, waiting for one or another to tip the balance of power. So what is this that we’re going through? A warm war? People are dying in vast numbers, though for the most part, the casualties of this war aren’t the young and strong but the old and weak. (A friend believes this is all about depopulation, though again, there’s no way to know for sure. There are always a dozen or a dozen dozen reasons for any worldwide conflict, with everyone involved trying to gather more power for their own particular interest groups.)

As I said, there’s no way for me to even begin to guess what the end result will be. We’re simply not being given enough information about important matters such as who, actually, was tweaking this virus, who let it loose and why. Was it on purpose? An accident? All these are the same questions my characters in A Spark of Heavenly Fire asked when a deadly organism was unleashed on the world, but that was a novel, and novels need some sort of resolution. Not so “real life.”

It’s easier to speculate about alterations on a more personal level, since although I don’t know all the particulars of The Bob and the reasons behind it, I do know how it is affecting my life. So far, I’ve managed to stay healthy, but a lot of that is due to spending most of my time alone. It’s hard to catch something from yourself, though I have done that — allergy attacks that become so devastating they might as well be a infectious disease. Mostly, though, I have managed to maintain my health during this time — no colds or flu or anything catching — which tells me that staying away from people is good for my health.

I’ve always been a bit of stickler when it comes to opening doors, such as those to a public restroom, making sure I use a paper towel to turn the door handle, and that won’t change, though I won’t feel as abashed about it. Nor will I ever use a public restroom again except in a dire emergency.

I’ve always been a bit antsy about standing in lines, and I will no longer do so unless people keep their distance. I have never liked people breathing down my neck, and even more so now.

I have a hunch, as things get back to a state that at least feels normal compared to the siege mentality we are now experiencing, I won’t be as loose and free as I was during the previous few years. I won’t be as willing to attend events where more than a few people are present, won’t be as willing to embrace strangers as I did, won’t be as determined to be sociable. It was always hard for me to be outgoing, but I did make the attempt because not to do so would be limiting my life in an unhealthy way, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back to the point where I feel the necessity.

But then, what do I really know? This warm war will change us, all of us, even me. And the “me” to come might be more willing to be bold, to get out in public and let life — and death — fall where they may.


If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842

6 Responses to “Warm War”

  1. rodmarsden Says:

    The virus that has mainly hit the USA and the UK hardest isn’t the most deadly possible virus. It will be tamed soon. It has taken its financial toll on a number of countries where there have been much fewer deaths. Countries like New Zealand were better organized against it and have a smaller population than the USA and the UK and are able to safe guard their borders. That will be important in the future if something much nastier hits the world.

  2. Estragon Says:

    IMHO, the notion that humans intentionally tweaked and/or introduced the virus seems far-fetched and perhaps hubris. Nature is quite capable of coming up with novel ways to sicken and kill us all by itself. The nature of the virus makes it far too unpredictable to be effective as a nation-state level weapon. It might make more sense as a sub-national, terrorist type weapon, but absent credible claims of responsibility, it fails in effectiveness there as well. I’ve heard specious claims about drug companies introducing it in order to cure it, but the reality is vaccines aren’t particularly profitable. The application of Occam’s razor leads to the conclusion that Bob is a natural virus, albeit spread more quickly via modern tech like ubiquitous air travel.

    That said, the old saw that “a crisis shouldn’t be allowed to go to waste” means there will be winners and losers among people, organizations, countries, etc. Maybe we go back to something that looks a lot like before Bob, but I doubt it. More likely, things we thought for sure would happen won’t (at least for now), and things we thought were unlikely will (or at least sooner than we thought possible). Some people are likely to see the end of Bob as an all-clear to return to pre-Bob behavior with a vengeance, but my guess at this point is many more will be cautious, restrained, even fearful.

    I’m finding it difficult to be objective though, as my wife died just before Bob hit the fan (late Jan). I remember saying to a nurse in the E.R. that I was surprised it wasn’t busier with everyone with a sniffle thinking they might have it. I’ve had a bit of a thing about being in crowds since my teen years. Now though, it seems just being out of the house is making me anxious. I don’t think it’s because I’m afraid of getting it. It’s more that I’m afraid of how other people behave, and how they perceive and react to me. Maybe I would feel this way anyway after my wife’s death, Bob notwithstanding. I just don’t know.

    I do think the comparison to the effects of a war are apt though. Not so much in the severity of the trauma, but in the fact that it’s gone on for so long. We humans tend to extrapolate the recent past into our expectation for far into the future. Life tends to return to something like normal after a natural disaster or terrorist attack if the aftermath is short-lived. It’s when the event reverberates for a lot of people over a long time that more permanent changes tend to happen. Ebola was a much deadlier (and more gruesome) virus, but because it was deadlier it didn’t get spread as widely or become such a pervasive threat. 9-11 reverberated for years in one way or another, and in many ways still does. Oklahoma bombing and Tokyo gas attacks in 1995 are largely forgotten by those not directly affected. They may not be directly comparable in terms of body count, but that was more luck than anything. Over 42,000 were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the US in 2001, but that was just business as usual.

    Maybe the law of unintended consequences will exert itself in all sorts of unexpected ways. For example, I have to think a federal fiscal stimulus approaching 25% of US GDP has to leave some skid marks somewhere. We live in interesting times!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I don’t know if it makes it easier to accept the virus if it’s natural or not. Nor do I know the truth of it, and probably never will. I do know because of my extensive research into biological warfare for my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire that humans have been doing some horrible experiments on various viruses, such as combining smallpox with ebola and Equine encephalitis. Who in their right mind would ever do such a thing? And yet, they did.

      Like you, I’m not afraid of getting the virus so much, but I am leery of others. It’s possible your reaction has to do with your wife’s death, but it could be just a realistic response to a rather unreal situation. (Grief would just adds to the unreality of it all.) In my case, I just don’t trust people all that much.

      For sure we live in interesting times, though. I’ll be curious to see what happens in the next few years.

      • Uthayanan Says:

        Pat you said “ In my case, I just don’t trust people all that much.”
        At the moment I feel you are more intelligent, realistic, wiser than me with the present life. After my wife departure I came to the same situation.
        With the present life situation I can’t think clearly what is goin to happen in my personal life and the world. It is interesting the fact what you said.
        From last August something strange happens inside me and it is difficult to explain. It might be the grief process which I have got to accept. But not destructive.
        As you said I am waiting “what what happens in the next few years.”
        I am lonely but not afraid to be alone.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          That’s a big step, not being afraid to be alone. For a long time, the thought of growing old alone frightened me, but I’m okay with it now. I do get lonely, of course, but I am okay with being alone.

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