A thread about the coronavirus, Star Trek, the Vietnam War and what we're forgetting...
In 1966, the Vietnam War continued its futile consumption of American lives and money. The war had begun to weave itself into the emotional background, so much so that it came to be called the "Living Room War," consumed like a television series at dinnertime.
In 1966, Gene Roddenberry was producing the first season of a science fiction television series called "Star Trek." He watched the Living Room War at his dinner table as well, and became obsessed with the tally of the dead.
The numbers were reported dryly. Each night, the days total was added to the cumulative total -- digits, figures, ciphers... with no sense those numbers were souls.
Roddenberry imagined a future where war was just numeric. No battles, no explosions... just computers emotionlessly calculating the expected dead and those designated killed would just show up to be disintegrated. Neat. Efficient.
The episode he wrote (which would air in February of 1967) was called "A Taste of Armageddon." In the episode, the Enterprise is designated a casualty of war, and Kirk, the ship's captain, is ordered to deliver his crew for extermination.
Kirk refuses, and the planetary authorities cry that his refusal will propel them back into a real war. Kirk insists they should know the horror of war. They should know these calculated numbers aren't just entries in a ledger -- each death is a person torn from us forever.
We have found ourselves in a Living Room Pandemic. We turn to websites; we note the chyron on CNN. We watch the numbers climb... 60,000... 70,000... 80,000... And like the inhabitants of Roddenberry's fictional planet Eminiar VII, we have forgotten that...
...each of those numbers is a person. A mother, a father. A daughter or a son. And we have lost track of why they are dying. They are dying because a president who feared positive numbers prevented Americans from being tested. They are dying because a president who...
...fears economic numbers is insisting that we ignore doctors and start gathering again--without the testing and tracing that would keep us safe. They are dying because we have turned them into numbers.
We must turn them back into people. We must remember that the 82,806 dead as of this morning had things to do. They had jobs and book clubs and church rummage sales and birthday parties and soccer games in the park to get to. And we must know that if...
...our country had had competent leadership, many (most according to some epidemiologists) would still be living people instead of numbers.

Stop looking at numbers. Think about people. And then ask yourself this question: Does Donald Trump think those numbers are people?
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