How To Think About A 7 Headed Hydra With 8 Heads

Facing this week’s COVID-19 conundrum requires serious thought. An approach I find helpful is to view the altered way of life imposed on our species through a number of lenses.

Here are some of them:

1) Who or what might be responsible for the introduction and spread of this virus in the human biome? And why?

Might it be intended to bankrupt social security or privatize it; might it be to cancel democracy, and suspend fair elections? Might it be to implement an economic war against China? We can examine a number of theories about how and where this virus originated.

We can, for example trace it to a U.S. Olympic team assigned to Wuhan, China in 2019; we can point out that the pandemic was expected as early as 2016 when the Obama transition team passed its institutional memory to the Trump team that would take over following that inauguration. We can point out how Trump annulled the very organization meant to address such a pandemic, and how all or most of these functionaries are gone, dismissed by Trump, and their institutional memory lost; but the most comprehensive article on the origins of the virus is at

2) What does spread of this disease really do?

Is it real? or perceived. What is real? The Buddhists prioritize seeing things as they are. Even more alarming than the disease itself is our loss of civil rights. You are incarcerated. You are incarcerated with your books, and your fish tanks, your bookcases, your TV, and your washing machine, call it soft incarceration, but you are incarcerated. You are in a concentration camp for gentlemen. What is the fallout for you as a political animal? You have just had your Right of Assembly taken from you. You have just had your Right to Bear Grievance Against Your Government taken away from you (you can’t go out this week with your sign to demonstrate, or attend a political meeting, or organize a demonstration). If you live beyond one paycheck, you have had your savings seriously eroded while lawmakers, knowing in advance, made sure to dump their stock. And you have just had the Voke (That’s the Vote-as-a-Joke) taken from you by the media and DNC that made sure you’d have to elect Joe Biden. Could this possibly benefit the folks who legislated an even more restrictive spying law on you just last week? Or the president who has aspirations way beyond 2020, and even 2026? Whatever the Trump role in creating this brave new world, we can rest assured that he will take full advantage of the chaos that results.


3) What is the psychological impact and how do we cope with its toll?

I shut the door of the cab delivering me home from the Oakland Airport a week ago to see big warning signs posted on the building where I live: Senior Residence. Entrance Restricted. For one disoriented moment, I wondered if my key would fit the lock. This new form of existence comes as more of a shock than 9-ll. If we follow the mandates of the state, we must stay indoors. If we sight another human being, we must keep a wary distance of between 6 to 10 feet; we can escape confinement only for essential things like shopping to feed ourselves, or exercising, or keeping a medical appointment — if we’re covered and can get one at all from our clueless and unprepared medical system.

Drone warfare does to a society such as exists in Iraq and Afghanistan exactly what this virus does to us: Because of fear that we might die, we can’t assemble, we can’t attend school, or mosque, or church, we can’t attend a gathering, a meeting or a music concert, or find an open library, and we can’t have public ceremonies like weddings, or funerals. We are victims of war.

4) How do we cope?

As a young person living in New York, I came in contact with a few people who had survived concentration camp. We had long heated discussions about what survival meant. It always came down to one thing: discipline. Strict self-scheduling of activities by the hour, and no deviation. And having a focus, whether learning a new language, or learning a new skill, or writing a book, or making Gaman (like this drawing of Tule Lake in 1942 by an incarcertaed Jalanese) or designing tombstones commemorating all the millions of species lost to the Sixth Extinction. And taking vitamin C. If you lived in Costa Rica you might get tested if you are sick, but testing in the U.S. is behind the learning curve. And there’s a good reason for that.

5) What might be some unexpected consequences?

The choice is stark: natural population selection and authoritarianism and social control, or, by contrast, as Naomi Kline in Corona Virus Capitalism underscores, benefitting from the potential of new ideas. More than ever, we have a compelling reminder of what universal healthcare might mean. And even Forbes is saying it’s time for a Green New Deal. Similarly, because prison overcrowding is a Petry dish for incubating and spreading the virus, we might question the value of prison altogether. We might look at what the Iranians with their long and bloody history of incarcerating political prisoners have done releasing all prisoners back into society to protect them and the society at large, which is part of the same biome. We might consider that the homeless are also part of the biome we share. We might create hand washing stations for them, we might even consider housing them! We might discover the benefits of de-growth: less flying; less driving, less use of fossil fuel, less consumption. We might discover the need for a guaranteed minimum wage so that sick people would not be forced to go to work during the pandemic. We might reconsider socialism and its benefits now, especially now, in the absence of democracy, when the media and the DNC voked Biden in for us. These are just some of the new ideas which circumstances are forcing to the foreground.

One thing is certain: living (and dying, too) will never be the same. One consequence is that the rich will prey on the poor as they always have; another consequence is that the poor will finally have their chance to teach the rich the lesson they richly need to know: how to live sustainably, on a beautiful blue and green ball.

Demand Congress take measures to prepare the US healthcare system for a pandemic at

Sign now: Coronavirus test should be free and available to all at

Protect frontline workers essential to protecting all at

Petition Congress to implement a national moratorium on foreclosures and evictions at

Petition to release Assange before coronavirus spreads at

Demand Workers First in any airline and airport bailout at

Petition Congress to ban practice of government officials selling stock while in office. at

Tell Trump to employ Defense Production Act to drive the supplies, treatments and capacity our healthcare system needs at

Resisting U.S. bullying, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC unanimously overruled the Pretrial Chamber on March 5, 2020, and ordered a formal investigation of U.S., Afghan and Taliban officials for war crimes, including torture, committed in the “war on terror.”

Chile witnesses a week of renewed protests demanding the resignation of billionaire President Sebastián Piñera and calling for a Peoples’ Convention to scrap former dictator Augusto Pinochet’s 1980 neoliberal laws, replacing them with a new Constitution.

Iran temporarily releases 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, to slow the virus’ spread.

‘Bolsonaro Out!’ from balconies and windows, millions demand ouster of Brazilian president over handing of COVID-19.

London postal workers take strike action over COVID-19 concerns.

Italians find way to 3-D print key ventilator piece for $1.00 to help battle coronavirus.

Federal Judge Anthony Trenga orders Chelsea Manning released from jail. Her supporters raise the full $250,00 of her fine in 24 hours.

Detroit pauses water shutoff in COVID-19 outbreak.

Homeless moms take over a house in LA.

San Francisco to offer RVs to homeless people needing coronavirus quarantine.U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell blocks rules that would have denied 700,000 people food stamps.

Chef José Andrés converts his closed restaurants into to-go kitchens for feed public during COVID-19 outbreak.

Harvard students sue university over its investments in the prison industrial complex.

New York to pay incarcerated laborers 65 cents an hour to make hand sanitizer to fight COVID-19.

Virus fears prompt call for SF police to halt arrests in non-violent cases.

Muslim running for Congress helps pay medical debt of man who sent him anti-Muslim tweets.

Big 3 automakers shut down as COVID-19 grinds U.S. industry to halt; Italian workers stage wildcat strikes.

Don’t hold your breath: Economists demand Trump immediately lift Iran, Cuba, Venezuela sanctions.

‘Now make it national” as Vermont and Minnesota classify grocery store staff as emergency personnel.

Progressive Marie Newman unseats anti-choice Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois Democratic primary.

U.S. finally looking out for Number #2 as it stocks toilet paper.

And in the same vein: