COVID-19 crisis: silver linings and rot at the top by Marjorie Arons-Barron

There are so many good things that are happening as we adjust to the scary new normal of hunkering down, staying at home.  But every time I listen to the President at a White House COVID-19 task force press conference I am simultaneously repelled and outraged, and the good things happening on the ground slip from my grasp.

I’m grateful that so many news media people are still getting the story for us, providing information we need to know for survival, despite the inability or unwillingness of the President and his team to be transparent, factual and pro-active.  Many reporters are performing superbly, including George Stephanopoulos’ co-anchor Martha Raddatz, who did an epic job of pressing FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, who kept slithering away from specifics on N95 masks for healthcare providers.

I’m grateful to members of my extended neighborhood community who have gone online offering to buy groceries or do other errands for those in the older, high-risk cohort.  I’m doubly grateful to my son, daughter-in-law, grandson and  neighbors for doing our food shopping.  I deeply appreciate the online community of my Wellesley College classmates and Brandeis Lifelong Learning Institute fellow learners who have kept up a stream of humorous offerings, many of them compatible with my own dark humor.

Others in our city have done everything from dropping off bags for the local food pantry, to offering free meditation classes by conference call (haven’t yet availed myself of the service), to pointing out where to find a beaver dam on the Charles River, just steps from my home.  I won’t forget the members of the Rotterdam orchestra who played Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from their individual homes to lift our spirits in a profoundly touching way.

The role of first responders and health care providers is nothing short of heroic. I’m also touched by the teachers and retired teachers who have offered online support for parents struggling to home school their young ones. Those moms have posted some hilarious videos, but the challenges they face are no laughing matter.

The examples of community spirit speak to the best of ourselves. Sadly, each day the President demonstrates the very worst of leadership in a crisis.  Need proof?  Just watch the stock market dip precipitously as he takes the microphone. What’s the purpose of the Federal Defense Production Act if not to use it now to avoid unconscionable price gouging  and to direct needed medical supplies and equipment to where they are most needed and not force desperate states into a Darwinian competition with each other over ?

We are ill served by this ignorant vindictive narcissist, his inept administration and his invertebrate enablers in the Senate.  Trump lies; people die; ignorance kills.