It's been 767 days since the before times-everything has changed except the politics of entitlement.
The before times were 767 days ago. I've done those months and years, for the most part alone, while undergoing rectal cancer treatments followed by recuperation. But, so did many of you who, like me, endured various forms of solitary confinement. Each of us, in our imaginations, counted our time, like a prisoner in a dungeon tracks the days with pencil marks drawn on a wall dead of colour. Each of you has made a unique journey through the Badlands of Covid. Each, of us; endured sorrow, heartache, and depression. But we also enjoyed moments of wonder and joy. We even found it in ourselves to laugh at our dire predicament.
But Covid is not over. It still kills. Many, who survive it, are debilitated with other maladies that make their quality of life less than enjoyable. As a song once said, "it's a mad world."
In Ukraine, we are in a proxy war with Russia that bleeds out as if it were a victim of a drive-by shooting that lies on the street pavement waiting for paramedics to arrive.
The nuclear doomsday clock sits ready to strike for us as a clock once did for Faust, after he bargained with the devil. And, despite the need for thinking outside of the box politics; we get the politics of well-fed technocrats that have tried to solve most geopolitical issues with guns rather than butter. Pundits on the news tell us our side will see victory and Putin’s side defeat that will make him sue for peace like it was Lenin at Brest Litovsk. The tune is the same organ grind that led us to 1914, but we danced to it because we are told this is different.
To top it all off, politicians and businesses tell us to get on with things, meaning make wealth for the 1% because Covid is over. Yet, science tells us, we are in another wave that is incapacitating too many people and clogging our ICUs.
Everything, at least for me, feels like it is converging like tectonic plates smashing into each other. The economy, Covid, and the war menace everyone’s right to a prosperous, healthy, purposeful, and perhaps happy life.
We all feel divorced from our politics. But we shouldn’t because politics is personal if you live on the margins during a cost-of-living crisis like the one the world is experiencing now. In Britain, the current rise in prices, including energy, made 4.7 million people food insecure, which is human resources speak for not being able to afford to feed yourself to live in good health. According to an Angus Reid Poll, half of Canadians can not keep up with the spiralling cost of everything. I knew I was part of the half sinking further into poverty because of inflation when I debated the pros and cons of buying a package of chicken thighs due to a 25% price increase. I decided to hedge my bets and wait until the package of chicken thighs moved closer to the bin date, and its price fell. I reasoned there was still pasta and sauce in my abode that the rich are always saying is a good meal for the impecunious.
It is no great tragedy, but it has been almost a year since I’ve eaten steak. It is just too damn expensive, as is lamb, decent fish or fruit out of season. Steak is now like caviar out of the reach of the many. When I see steak presented in a butcher’s display case, it reminds me of diamonds in the window of Tiffany's-not for the likes of us.
I understand why when Arthur Koestler was penniless; and hungry in Vienna at the end of the Great War and walked by Hotel Sacher, which still offered its famous cake to those with money, he felt anger and nostalgia for a past time.
The ice is thin for you, me, and so many others. So, I hope because we are on the cusp of summer, I can skate to the shore and see that my book about my dad Harry Leslie Smith, me, our family, and the times we lived in finds a publisher.
Go well, comrades, John.