From masks to the mindless-the world is moving from COVID to cuckoo bananas

Our latest column from William Thomas

Do I have this right? We are five months into the COVID-19 pandemic with almost 20 million cases worldwide, nearly a million people dead, not to mention a global economy on life support and we’re still debating the wearing of face masks!?! It’s as if the planet had been swamped by a flood of Biblical proportions and after half a year of treading water, we’re discussing the merits of flotation devices! We will never know how many people died needlessly because world leaders did not make masks mandatory from minute one.

For me the pivotal sign that the world was emerging from the darkness of the COVID shutdown and entering into the realm of the strangely unknown was the assignation of a Liberian warlord in London, Ontario. The four alleged killers who stormed the house of Bill Horace and shot him to death were wearing… medical masks. And I thought, well at least that shows some respect for the guy you’re about to kill. Only in Canada could the ignorance and entitlement of young partyers refusing to wear masks reach the point where it’s left to a bunch of cold-blooded killers to set a good example.

Similarly, I’m watching a news clip from that July fourth party on a sandbar at Torch Lake, Michigan where several thousand partyers are dancing so close to each other it looks like a mosh pit at WaterWorld. But side by side and step by step two white guys are dancing next to two black guys and I’m thinking…that’s a good sign. Right? Surely they’re all a bunch of self-centered fools who are now testing positive and could possibly die but they appear to be racially harmonious.

Oh how I wished this foolishness was limited to not-real-bright college kids in the United States and far-right American Evangelists who believe “bathing in the blood of Jesus” will keep them safe from the virus. But no. In Manitoba, dozens of mostly young and hopelessly naive protesters gathered at the provincial legislature for “The March To Unmask” rally. Unwilling they said, to sacrifice personal freedoms and human rights, they carried signs like “Face Masks Decrease Oxygen” and “My Body. My Choice.” Yet another prime example of youth being squandered on the young.

Apparently these “freedom fighters” don’t remember that global dust-up of 75 years ago to which Canada sent our youngest and bravest men and women to risk their lives in order to take down the Nazis so that we could live in a democracy, gather and speak freely and not have to learn German as a second language. Now that was about freedom and rights. With 42,000 Canadians dead and 55,000 maimed–that’s what you call a ‘sacrifice.’ Today, wearing a face mask to respect and protect the most vulnerable–that’s just an inconvenience.

And humour? In Germany, sex trade workers are promising to wear masks if the government will reopen the brothels. In Boston a psychologist has created the Vincent Van Gogh mask that hangs off just an ear.

And then there’s President Donald Trump-” Mask as I say, not as I do.” He’s now wearing a mask, sometimes. “I look great in a mask,” boasted the president. For the first time in his life, he’s being modest. Covering up America’s face of hate, I would say: “You look terrific, Sir.”

“I aced it!” bragged the president after recently taking a cognitive test which can identify early signs of dementia. “That’s an unbelievable thing,” he told Fox News. “The doctors were really surprised.”

The test shows a picture of a large grey animal with a trunk and asks you to name that animal. Or a tall spotted animal with a really long neck. He aced it and the doctors were surprised! Mr. President, we were all surprised.

Said one American doctor about the test, “You don’t ace the cognitive test. You either get it perfect or we take away your license.”

On a lighter note–shootings in Toronto, bad driving, the greed of pro sports, record-high heat and extreme climate change did not disappear during the shutdown. Remember extreme climate change, the environment epidemic that was killing us slowly before the coronavirus tromped on accelerated.

Well, Global Warming deniers might consider holding their annual convention in Russkoye Ustye, a Siberian village within the arctic circle where the weather is really nice this time of year except it’s not supposed to be. Normally locals would be snowmobiling on the lake near Verkhoyansk but now they’re swimming in it.

Whereas in 1892 this lake area held the northern hemisphere’s record for the coldest temperature on earth at minus 67 degrees below zero, last month’s heatwave hit 38° Celsius, the hottest ever above the arctic circle. Residents are frantically boarding up windows against the sun, the ground above the melting permafrost is shifting, reindeer herders are out of work and wildfires have scorched 20,000 square kilometers in Siberia–once the land of snow and ice.

In the race to reduce the world’s population, COVID-19 has jumped to an early lead but Global Warming is playing the long game.

Oddly, with all the time people have had on their hands, those hands have become unproductive. Everyone I talk to is sleeping poorly, tired all day and getting next to nothing done. Before the pandemic hit there was a motivational challenge out there to “Do one thing you’re normally afraid of.” Now as we stumble from shutdown to start up with a second wave of the horizon, that daily challenge has been reduced to “Just do one thing!”

Books written by William Thomas are available at www.williamthomas.ca and delivered by Canada Post