It seems as though recently the urgency of life has become that much more evident due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the event, I almost felt guilty for bringing it up in my normal writing because, much like the 219,000 people who have died from COVID-19 (as of the writing of this post), I assumed it would be over fairly quickly. Clearly, that was a bad assumption to make.
Not that it wasn’t urgent before, of course, only that the frailty of our institutions have been hidden behind a curtain of public trust for far too long. It is saddening to know that the death of so many has provoked from many a casual disinterest at best and the formation of a death cult at its absolute worst.
It reminds me of a anime that I have been re-watching recently, “AnoHana,” which tells the story of a group of friends years after one of their best friends Menma dies after drowning in a river. The group splits up over time, only for them to stop communicating altogether after reaching high school.
Of course, the group of friends are sad about Menma’s death, but what is most concerning is that not that they are aggrieved by her loss, but rather how their feelings have been stored away and unresolved for so long. After Menma’s spirit seemingly appears out of nowhere to the main character Yadomi, he along wit the rest of his friends are forced to confront the things they never got to express as kids. This includes feelings of love, as well as mending their friendships which have long since been broken.
What’s important here is not just the death itself, but rather its suddenness, the way it strikes our lives the moment we least expect it, and the way it can stick with us for so long, for…ever. While the events of “AnoHana” are not nearly as tragic as the current pandemic, it is a microcosm of what many people are currently going through.
As the U.S. continues to fail in its response of adequately protecting citizens from COVID-19, and others refuse to take up the personal responsibility of even the most basic safety precautions, citing some imagined sense of wronged civil liberties, more people die. While our institutions crumble under the weight of extreme incompetency and mismanagement, hundreds and even thousands of “AnoHanas” are being created every day with seemingly zero sense of responsibility from those in charge.
And for what? So those still around can live and sometimes relive tragedy? So those who are deemed “Job creators” can reap the reward of others misery as they go into work, risking their own lives and others?
Every person that dies because of COVID-19 is another story of a tragedy that did not have to happen, and another “AnoHana” that others will have to live through. There is no justice in self-righteousness, and the dead cannot feel whatever empathy you pretend to have.