by Paul Moomjean
By the time you read this, everything could be different.
For the past two weeks, the world has gone through the single most impactful epidemic known in remembered history. Was this how the dinosaurs felt when the comet hit? To think that the entire world has become victim to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, within such a short amount of time is mind blowing. And while South Korea and China are seeing a reduction in cases and fatalities, America seems to only be in the beginning phase.
In the movies, Bruce Willis or The Rock would have found a cure by now. But this isn’t the movies, and the country is looking for a hero. With streaming movies and TV shows being the number one form of entertainment as the country is in quarantine mode, life has become the movie, even as we sit at home watching them. Yet, as a movie lover, I can say that there is hope, if only because the movies taught me so.
I wish I could say the government was providing hope. Instead, mixed messages and unclear advice seem to be the language of leadership. President Donald Trump went from calling this pandemic a hoax to a national emergency. California Governor Gavin Newsom called for the state to go on lockdown, unless you work in an essential sector or want to take a walk outside. It’s a deadly virus, unless you want food delivered.
Meanwhile, in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared the alarming statistic that 80 percent of his state’s population could get sick, and he continued with the horrifying thought that the crisis could last until Christmas.
“This is not a short-term situation,” Cuomo said. “This is not a long weekend. This is not a week. The timeline, no one can tell you. It depends on how we handle it . . . But 40 percent up to 80 percent of the population will wind up getting this virus.”
Facts are important, but the lack of hope in this message needs to be addressed, too. “All we’re trying to do is slow the spread, but it will spread, it is that contagious. It is going to be four months, six months, nine months . . .”
I don’t have to explain to you that this is a nightmare of Arnold Schwarzenegger-movie proportions. Yet, allow me to give you a moment of hope. For the past 20-some odd years, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings films have been a sanctuary and refuge for me. The story of an evil force trying to destroy Middle Earth is a parable and metaphor for so much of the West’s history. This crisis being no exception. So, while all of this may feel like a movie at times, remember that films were made to help us get through hard times, and unlike our leadership, many times films can give us a philosophy to live by.
There is a great scene in the first Lord of the Rings film where Frodo wished none of the evil they battled had happened. The wise wizard Gandalf reminds him in a hushed tone, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
In a new normal of being locked down, we still have the responsibility to continue to better ourselves and our community. Try to see what is happening as a reset and not just a recession. Yes, things are scary, but we must not give into fear or self-pity.
While we “socially distance” ourselves from each other, try to find a way to bring value to this newfound down time. Read a book. Hell, write a book! Call the people you love. Exercise more. Redesign your room or house. Scrub it down and clean it up!
In every film there is a moment where the hero must come to grips with the reality the world will not be saved, but in that moment, they realize the cure for the problem. Doubt and fear are not wrong emotions to have; they are just motivators for solutions.
In the film Grand Canyon, Steve Martin’s producer character summed it up best: “That’s part of your problem, you know, you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” With that note, go solve the riddles you can.