The Benefits of Coronavirus – a short story

מובחרordinary-people

On a day like any other.

I'll take the dogs out for a walk. I'll get back home and give them their food, get

ready for the rest of the day, you know?

I'll take a shower, get dressed and put on the mask and gloves before going

out.

I'll look in the mirror before stepping out.

Nothing memorable, not with the mask on anyways.

It will be a bit warm outside, now being summer.

The mask is a bit uncomfortable, but at least it keeps people from staring.

I don’t think about being jumped by police or paying a fine for spreading diseases. At least if I'm a hypocrite for wearing it, so is everybody else.

I need money so I go into the bank. It's a bit crowded since they reopened just now. Even outside there is a small line, with everyone dutifully awaiting to get their temperature checked.

All are masked, anxious, yet docile and seem tired and indifferent. The masks equalize and us them faceless. The new uniform of the masses.

I await in line until I scram forth to reach the guard. He checks my temperature with an infrared thermometer. It takes just a second and he lets me through. I catch the smiling wrinkles around his eyes. We are co-conspirators in this charade.

It's always the busiest just before the weekend, when people are in a hurry to deposit their weekly salaries. There are five tellers all at it, with people more silent than usual, hoping to get it over with and maybe getting to rid themselves of the masks as soon as possible.

A few people in front of me, I scour the place. All are masked. Some clenching pieces of paper, most lean over to stare at their phone, as if their eyes are ready to dive into a deep pool. Every so often the number counter would change with a 'ting', causing several heads to lift, and then let out a sigh muffled by the mask, and the head would return to its previous downward slant right back into their phones.

I reached into my pocket to feel for the piece of paper which was my own to display that day. It was resting there, sure enough.

Several people were on the phone speaking a bit loudly. I stood there listening to them describing their most private affairs with the greatest of ease, as if they were entertaining a friend in their home. I could scarcely recall a time when such a thing was considered as rude, or even strange, behavior. The fact that you are able to do something doesn’t mean that you should do it, should you? I felt like I wasn't alone thinking this, but that everyone else were in silent agreement, staring into their phones, thinking they are able to use them as distraction, and so they should do it.

The line of people grows shorter. The bank had conveniently made people wait in a single line that split off when you got to the end into whichever teller in one of the five stations was ready to help you. A nice way of moving the line quickly and having it all done with in a hurry.

I dislike being hurried most of the times, but here it seemed like a relief in a way. I even didn’t care for the line being long. What usually was tedious though, was thinking which teller would you get and how cranky, or unprofessional they struck you. With masks on they all seemed perfectly similar in their indifference. All equally unconcerned with your business and all likewise less prone to pass judgment.

I was now first in line and it seemed like it would come down to either a young brunette teller, which was finishing up with an overweight couple, whose sweaty t-shirts and pink puffed necks she was probably eager to let go; and an equally young oriental gentleman who was assisting an elderly woman. For the last minute or so, he was no longer looking into his computer monitor, and stared straight at the old lady, who was perhaps done with her transactions but didn't seem to internalize the reality of that fact.

The couple slowly palmed a stash of bills which the brunette had laid in front of them, and commenced a triumphant exit, as if headed to celebrate with some food. I waited for the teller to look at me so to not barge in, as some people rudely do.

She took a few seconds to search for my eyes in the line, and gave a bewildered stare. I figured most people probably just go ahead and enter her line of sight without being called, like a conveyor belt of characters, just stepping into a slot. And now I was the odd one out for not applying this norm. I hurried to take my piece of paper out of my pocket so to not waste any time.

The teller's eyes glazed over me as I stood there. I slipped to paper underneath the glassy screen and allowed her to read it. She took a few seconds and then looked at me, as if searching for something in my eyes.

She was nice looking, or at least the top half of her face was, which was not hidden behind a piece of cloth. It took her another minute to count the money and put on the counter. She also handed  me back my note.

Her eyes were now looking straight at me, a look I became used to receiving, a kind of alertness mixed with contempt. I had almost grown fond of it by now.

I thanked her and said "have a nice day", which, while utterly banal as a saying, still feels like a common courtesy to me, which is why I don’t hesitate to use it whenever I bid goodbye to someone who is doing any service for me.

I went out of the bank and walked steadily home, making sure to pass through a few of the more busy streets, just in case I was being followed. I passed through the square, where the police had camped out to discourage people from walking about without a mask. I strutted besides them as if showcasing how good of a citizen I am to be wearing both a mask and a pair of gloves.

mask-and-gloves

I got back home and counted the money I got. Then, I wrapped it again and went over to the bedroom and opened the closet. "Safe within a safe" I muttered, and threw it in with the rest of the week's profits.

I took out the crumpled piece of paper from my right jacket pocket. I've written it with a black marker on top of a piece of some legal notices I picked off of the ground. Nothing flashy, but looks strikingly similar to your everyday bullshit bank notice. On top of it I had scribbled this lovely message:

"Please remain quiet. I have a gun and this is a robbery.

Put all the MONEY in your register into this bag – NOW

Do not call the police – or I will shoot"

I didn’t think much of it, except that I wanted something to get the tellers to do what I want without time to think. What got me thinking how easy it could be was watching everybody wearing masks and not looking at what anyone else was doing. It's as if people willfully became deaf, blind and dumb. And so I would be dumb to not use it to my advantage.

I needed the money, who the hell doesn't. And this was perfect. Nobody suspected a thing, not with my mask and gloves, which made sure I left no fingerprints there. I couldn’t be identified anywhere, not by anyone watching the surveillance footage, not by people on the street, and not by the teller herself. With everyone wearing masks now, I was free to walk unnoticed, a loose criminal in the disguise of an every-man.

On Eating Animals and Human Dishonesty

In recent years, the question of eating animals stirs intense debates, usually ending in the disgruntled clash between two sides – namely vegans and meat eaters. While both parties in this argument display their stand adamantly, I argue that dishonesty and self-deception is leading each of their arguments.

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It is easy to see why the question of eating animals, since its surfacing, has remained in the focus of both public and private discourse in recent years. Eating animal meat relates to our most basic of functions, that of nourishing and surviving.

While debates surrounding the eating of animals appear more omnipresent and fervent today than ever before, a sort of stalemate seems to have been reached. Whether on the media, or in conversation with friends or co-workers, speaking about consuming meat will most likely end up in a clash of ideas between veganism and a carnivore diet. A sense of unbridgeable doom will hover over the topic, causing people to try and avoid it entirely.

Yet the real problem is not with the topic – it is with the fact that both "sides" are engaged in a dishonest conversation, both to their audience and to themselves.


1. Eating animals – the Arguments

Whenever eating animals is discussed, one is almost guaranteed to hear any of the following lines of thought:

  • Man was/wasn't meant to eat animals
  • Eating animals is healthy/unhealthy
  • Growing and slaughtering animals is good/ bad for the economy
  • People have/haven't been eating animals for years
  • Killing animals is moral/immoral
  • Man has/hasn’t the right to kill animals

These claims might wear the guise of scientific research, they may involve reliance on experience or, more often than not, on hearsay and speculation. But the truth is, they are all irrelevant.

The reason why so many speakers find themselves divided into only two camps is that the majority of people do not dare to utter any complex notion or unresolved feelings that might have concerning eating living creatures..

For what can any person say when they obviously feel emphatically sad to see the torture and mutilation of helpless animals – when in fact they are the ones who necessitate this evil, to fulfill a basic craving? The eating of animals almost demands that we admit to a guilt which for many is too much to handle.

In dealing with this guilt, most people choose from only two options: either becoming a carnivore, yet remain voluntarily ignorant and cruel, to justify the craving for eating animals; or becoming a vegan, becoming intentionally aware, yet grief-stricken and burdened, abstaining from animal products entirely in order to justify a moral choice.

Despite the both being viable paths on their own right, each choice is an extremity, and is lauded by its proponents as the only ideal possible. In the attempt to rid humans of the guilt of eating animals, these two arguments have by now become a fixed framework for thinking, manipulating opinions and swaying the topic into something it is not, only to vindicate people's coping mechanism.

It is about guilt – and nothing more.

Sadly, in the process of choosing between these extreme options, the voices of those who are uncertain or reserved become lost. Any idea straying from this binary pairing of veganism-carnivorism is made to almost appear irrelevant. And thus, the way to a deceitful portrayal is paved.

Unfortunately for the creatures who suffer the most, this fake argument only helps those who built an industry on their torture and who need it for their gain.

2. The Deceit – How we talk now

The desire to be absolutely right leads the proponents of veganism-carnivorism to seek and employ hard "proof" from the realms of science, medicine and history.

Eating animal products might will be associated, rightly, with bad heart condition and early deaths in humans, while a shortage of vitamin B12 will be, rightly, linked to a vegan diet; the animal slaughtering industry is responsible for much of the deforestation, polluting and ruining of the earth's resources, while eating animals has been found in most cultures ,around the world for thousands of years; man's stomach and teeth, as well as his evolutionary connection with primates place him closer to herbivores than carnivores, although his ability to heat his food and the ability to successfully consume more species than any other natural predator sets him apart from most other animals.

With each side continuously finding more research, case studies and natural observations to serve as evidence for their particular belief, debates remain conflicting and very much stalemated.

The desire to find "proof" from the hard sciences in order to reveal whether the eating of meat to be ultimately wrong or right, natural or unnatural – is in itself an act of self-deception.

The underlying tone behind every argument surrounding the eating of animals is guilt on both sides. The real conflict, with which every emphatic human is cursed, is that eating animal meat feels good and natural, yet the killing of animals is done so brutally in inhumanely that it enrages us and makes us distraught.

Most people cannot stay in such a state of inner conflict for long. It drives us to choose one path that pacifies us, maintains our sense of self, as well as our sense of self-righteousness.

To be able to subsist and eat, we need to indeed justify our way of "solving" this matter, at least to ourselves. This is why, whenever people discuss eating meat, an underlying tone will be a mutual recognition of justification and an acknowledgement that the other party has made up their mind completely and without a doubt. Such resolution is indeed required by our psychological need to be intact. Most people would not dare say "I don't know", or "I haven't made up my mind yet" regarding the food that they eat – what we consume must be 100 percent approved, both mentally and physically, before we are able to intake it.

The arguments put forth at the beginning are excuses and justifications for one's personal choice for not knowing how to rid themselves of guilt.  

3. Acknowledging Guilt – A Road to a Solution

If we cease rationalizing this deeply intimate topic and instead consider how we feel about it, people from all views will generally agree on these two basic assumptions:

  1. That people have been eating animals all over the world for many years.
  2. That treating animals like inanimate objects is monstrous and unjustified.

Every argument on the matter should start with an agreement on these two things, in order to allow for a productive exchange.

Agreeing on these throws all irrelevant justifications out the window, since it shows that no matter what science has to say about humans "being meant" to eat animals – the fact of the matter is that is happens nonetheless. The only problem is with its modern system of doing so.

The real reason why we are left to debate over lies is the fear that we cannot do anything about the "system" of mass scale slaughter. This, in fact is the lie of industrial capitalism. Since, amazingly, the mass slaughtering of animals in factories has only been in existence for no more than 100 years. In its short existence, the mass-slaughter industry has managed to convince so many of us that there was never another way of getting food, or any other artifacts of consumption. And the biggest lie of all is that we believe it.

Before its arrival, and in fact still found to this day in many non-industrial cultures throughout the world, people either took care of the animals which they later ate, or they hunted them. Ever since the mass-scale mode of industrial manufacturing began making a lot of money for a handful of people, we have been driven to distance ourselves not only from our food, but from every artifact that we consume and use.

The furniture we buy now is made on an assembly line and mostly last only several years before it breaks down – causing enormous and unnecessary destruction of the planet's natural resources; as happens with the disposable electronics we buy and the minerals and metals being quarried and mined for their operation.   

The artistry and craftsmanship of the past has all but vanished to make way for uniform, bland, uninspired things with which we now surround ourselves, only to replace at each opportunity. While the artisan's chair might be looked at again and again and reveal ideas, spark the imagination and become infused with memories, the assembly line chair carries no meaning, and is nothing but utilitarian.  

No more artistry, no more memories, no more man. We become functionary.

Life in an industrial environment becomes less worth living – it is less filled with things that we like. In such a surrounding, happiness becomes momentary and fleeting.

Back to animals – hunting was the longest one could enjoy a meal. A process of hunting in many tribal cultures is a ritual experience in which one envelops themselves in wild nature, to become more and more attentive to the ways of the animals. The actual kill carries with it the immediate sensation of guilt accompanied with relief, which are the reasons for carrying out absolving prayers and rituals to the soul of that animal which you will consume. These make you one with the slayed animal (notice the relation between "consume" and consummate") and able to live off of them. The meat of a wild animal being hunted would last you for months of sustenance, and its preparation also a process taking a long time. All of these are things that keep you connected with the memory and the living world, of the cycle of taking-a-life-eating-remembering-dying-being-eaten, that eventually gives meaning to consuming animals.

Both the artist and the hunter can put themselves in touch with the things they consume, and thus enjoy meaning in what they bring inside their existence. Most of us living in the modern west have distanced ourselves so completely from what we consume that we have denied ourselves the joy of understanding, the meaning behind seeing it and producing it ourselves. We have become what we eat – a joyless being, moving from one meal to another, surrounded by things that have no personal meaning to us, that we did not create or take part in.

There is one more underlying tone beneath each argument about eating animals, one that is strictly hidden and terrifying for the modern man to admit, since revealing it would confront him with his deepest feeling of powerlessness. That is the fact that western man and woman have grown completely and utterly dependent on outer sources for their food – that they are, in fact enslaved to those corporations that slaughter and torture animals to deliver it to them.

4. What the Machine Eats – Our willful Enslavement

The desire to be right and keep your ego intact isn't just caused by the guilt of killing animals. It is brought on by the feeling of helplessness at the face of the big industrialist machine – the corporatized and alienated world of money in which we now live.

Many of us take it as a given that nothing can be done to change big companies and corporations, since they control the means of production. With western man and woman not knowing how to raise animals or grow their food, they are utterly dependent upon outside companies for their survival. With this kind of slavery, it almost makes sense to choose the biggest and, in fact most distant of food manufacturers, in order to detach oneself from acknowledging this servitude.

The feelings of guilt and ineffectiveness lie at the heart of our discussion of eating meat. That is, people living in cultures that cultivate their own food and raise their animals do not question the validity of their actions. They are close to their origins of sustenance and can account for how it is made. We in the industrialized west are left in the dark, alienated and remote from the things that we intake and make part of ourselves. We are thus driven to rationalize and make excuses, scientific as they may be, whose purposes are to justify that predicament which we know in our heart makes us so miserable.  

The big companies, of course, know that this is guilt and are happy to exploit it. Corporations that profit off animal torture tend to display the argument in the media as having only two sides: a vegan option on the one side -appearing too hard and fanatical for most people – and a carnivorous one, socially and commercially justified, on the other.

If you look at how the subject has been brought up in the media, it is almost always portraying veganism as a sole counter stance to factory harvesting of animals. Most times the same media outlets are sponsored by one or more big dairy or meat companies that profit from the animal imprisonment.

The industrial farm system is appalling yet despite its machinations there are effective ways to make it stop. It is sustained by the money poured into it – as is anything in the capitalist sphere – it needs capital in order to grow. Spending our money somewhere else is the best way to have a saying where big companies are involved.

5. Stopping the Machine – Ways of Action

The reason that we feel so powerless to the big companies is that we have enslaved all of our social systems, as ourselves, to the power of its capital.

Legal systems in most western societies are basing their rulings concerning animals on utilitarian – meaning how much money they generate – reasons. Animal abusers are sentences to miniscule punishments since we allow larger corporations to do so on a regular basis. Instead, as every human being is naturally inclined to think and feel, animals should be treated as sentient, feeling beings with a capacity for suffering and joy – much like small children, in their defenselessness against humans.

In very much the same way, the political sphere, the public sphere and any type of discourse we allow to reach a mass audience is still very much in denial or silent (meaning – dishonest) about animal suffering. This is a moment in time in which people have the obligation to demand what they know is right, and act upon it.

In fact, what the large corporations are afraid of, as is any politician, lawmaker and public figures, are large groups of people making similar actions. Affecting how much money goes into the industry has a domino effect that affects all other walks of life concerning animals and ourselves.

Since it is money that affects how society treats animals, we can and should take action by pulling our money from torture companies and placing it where we can get our food and allow animals the dignity and safety they deserve from us.

Here are a few possible solutions that would change the course of industrial farming within several years.

In order to prevent animal torture, one can:

  1. Buy from a small, local farms, which guarantee their animals a place to range free, and live a life closest to its natural habitat.
  2. Learn how to cultivate and grow food and raise animals by yourself. Raising a small number of animals in the space and conditions they require for a good life is a way of eliminating the power of grow farms and reconnecting with how mankind consumed meat through most of history.
  3. If there is plentiful free range animals where you live with a legal option to do so, hunting is one way of not taking part in industrial farming. It also acknowledges animals as free to roam and is the least wasteful of all manners of attaining animals for eating.
  4. Cutting down in any shape possible – with so many other plant based sources of nourishment today, eating less animal meat, let alone animals from industry farms, is better for them with its side effects being a boost to your health.
  5. Stopping eating meat. The choice that many people are already taking these days, severely hurting the slaughter industry and raising the numbers of plant-based options by thousands of percents.

This change should also generate the creation of an agreement system, in which small growers and sellers of food realize that any attempt to monopolize by returning to mass slaughtering will lead to people stop buying from them and to discontinue their business.

The social and financial "side effects" of these actions are enormous, including helping local businesses and destroying mass-scale slaughter companies. It is a way of bringing about ecological recuperation and even assisting in ending hunger, by taking the power away from food monopolies and cartels.

Health benefits will undoubtedly rise as well. With the torturing of animals stopping, the auxiliary industries which sustain imprisoned animals with their drugs will cease to gain money, which will benefit the health of humans consuming animal meat.

The biggest effects of this change would be in our regaining our own humanity, as well as our connection with our natural surroundings. We will no longer be quibbling over justifying the eating of animals but will be taking command of our actions.

We will finally be able to look at ourselves, and at the animals around us, as deserving a decent life together.

T & J, or Porch Thoughts

T: "There's nothing sadder than a spiteful old-person."

J: "That's that fear of death."

 

Much like an old man who grows vengeful at society for carrying on without him, ideologies are bred by thinking you cannot die or cease to exist.

You wish to exclude and push away at the foreign elements surrounding you, thinking the world is meant to remain as you desire it for yourself and for your children. You refuse to believe that things might be different than they are.

That reminded me of my cousin asking me years back what, to my views, was the one 'problem in the world' – to which I answered 'fear'. He agreed and said he believed it was indeed a fear – "a fear of change". I was younger and did not fully realize the extent in reality of his statement.

RWS_Tarot_13_Death
defined as "a change of thinking from an old way into "a new way

This reminds me of Doug Stanhope, saying that people ranting about how fun it was when they were young – saying, it's not that that period was fun – youth is fun.

Acknowledging your death and demise relieves the tension of maintaining "control" over your surroundings.

Things just change.

On Gender-Identity

Listening to too much American podcasts makes it impossible to escape the recent debate surrounding gender-identities, and the use of gender-pronouns in particular. The claim that gender is not a binary construct boils down, in my view, to a definition of gender.

This issue has more to do with linguistics than it does with ideals. Since, the definition of 'gender' is: "the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones)". The term 'gender', then, disregards the biological, and indeed the binary, categorizing of men and women into two sexes. In so doing, it presupposes that a gender is a cultural construct – and can be formed as fluidly as one's personal identity.

Watching Bill Burr being interviewed on the "Your Momma's House" podcast. At the 55:00 minute mark, the hosts ask (perhaps glibly, although I don't think so) Burr, if he is "raising [his] child by the gender binary" ( https://youtu.be/tcC4ZeABv7I?t=3353 ). The talk continues when the hosts ask Burr if he will "raise his child to be a girl", to which he very aptly responds, "what are you talking about, my kid's a girl". I see this exchange as a depiction of the two conflicting voices on the matter nowadays.

I think it's clear that what is disconnected here is the clear idea of what a sex is an what gender is. A person's sex, as opposed to their gender, is assigned to them by their chromosomal makeup. This is unchangeable. A gender, as defined in the dictionary, can be seen as a person's cultural affiliation to a certain set of convictions of character, some of which are related to their sexual orientation. But, here is when one side (the hosts' side) of the argument gets it wrong in my opinion- They are conflating and jumbling together ideas of a person's 'sex' and their 'identity'. To prove this, many use the term "sexual identity". This notion assumes that there is in fact a set of character traits that a are brought on by being born to a certain sex. That is – when someone says "you are acting like a girl" they mean, being weak, feminine, winy, etc. Or "she's one of the boys" about a girl would dictate that she is the opposite of that, and would rather "work on carburetors" and play soccer, as Burr suggests. This reveals the underlying shortcomings of thought from the gender-pronouns movement. They are in fact the ones adhering more than anyone else to dated concepts of what it is like to act like a girl or a boy. Instead of accepting that a person's identity has nothing to do with their sexual basis, they would rather generate an eschewed and superseded discussion regarding "gender" – a mere cultural definition – and claim it to have prevalence over a biological sex.

I do not know how many of the people who adhere to the use of new gender pronouns are in fact being naive, and how many of them, as I suppose several radical factions of the feminist, trans and other movement are engaging in the debate out of dishonesty. I claim that this use ranges between metal sluggishness to dis-ingeniousness. On the hosts' side, I believe the former is the case. This illustarte the case of how the intellectual elite can once again, through spreading panic (in this case of messing up your child), can stupefy the general public into misinterpreting reality and acting in a reckless way, which they otherwise would never do.

The gender-pronoun movement is also very lazy in hiding its own ulterior motives and hypocrisies. Since, in most western cultures (and indded on those in which the debate takes place) one is intitled use any gender pronoun they would like for themselves, wear whatever colors of fashions they would like, and perform sex change operations to their heart's desire. Indeed, they can be as gender-fluid as they like. But asking others to be non-fluid in their relation to them, in calling them by a specifically assigned word, is hypocritical and dishonest to themselves.

To summarize, the gender-pronouns movement is wrong based on at least two grounds. First, it conflates the ideas of identity, which can be socially altered and chosen, with a given, unchangeable sexual makeup. By wishing to change a person's gender, its proponents constantly self parody their very idea by actually assuming that for each of the biological sexes there is a set of defining character and behavioral traits. Second, by the active appealing to others to engage them by their new assumed identities (asking people to call them by their newly taken gender pronouns), the proponents of the gender-pronoun movement are incredulously ordering others to become non-fluid in their own perceptions of gender. In thus doing, they are performing the ultimate act of self-indulgence, which is, being superior to others (hence, why people like Jordan Peterson refer to them correctly as "fascist").

The movement, in my view only illustrates how lost and out of touch certain people have become in seeing the world around them. They display a desire to break off of the shackles of definition, but in doing so they are creating an even more strenuous and suffocating set. The real realization of the self, be it sexual, mental, political, etc. is brought by renouncing of definitions and accepting the fluidity inherent within those so-called distinctions. My belief is that this movement's achieving publicity can lead to a phase of recognition of the self in people, that is brave – and not based of linguistic borders.

An Unnecessary Update

This is some month we're going through. My wife is busy chasing the deadline of her M.A. thesis, and I get to see less and less of her in a relaxed state, or at all. In the meantime, the house we moved into just half a year ago does not handle the winter rains well. The roof is leaking every time a heavy rain pours over it, and today the water managed to crack into the kitchen floor from behind some wall.

I just want to freeze frame it all. It would feel nice to stop and take it all in, in good humor. I think this is why people are more preoccupied than ever with taking photos of themselves these days. If you can stop reality you can enjoy it like an observer from the side. I just feel that life right now is this thing that is either flashing too quickly in front of my face or at a complete halt, and never allows me to grab it.

 

פוסט ראשון

הפוסט הזה הוא הראשון שלך. יש ללחוץ על הקישור 'עריכה' כדי לשנות או למחוק אותו או להתחיל פוסט חדש. אפשר לנצל את הפוסט הזה כדי להסביר לקוראים מדוע פתחת את הבלוג ומה בכוונתך לעשות אתו. אם דרושה לך עזרה, תוכל לפנות לאנשים החביבים בפורומים לתמיכה.