As the United States people deal with being the epicenter of a fatal pandemic what we're all witnessing is a human three-ring circus, President Donald Trump.
Like most people, the news about the global spread of the coronavirus made me anxious
If ever there was a moment that called for a president who can see and feel our national grief and who can act rationally to address it, this is it I thought.
But we don't have a rational president, we have a human three-ring circus, Donald Trump. We have a man who uses his lower intestines to his form policy responses, not his head.
Once upon a time, America had presidents who responded to the grave threats that surrounded us with conviction and purpose, but now we have what my grandmother used to call a notice-box who only responds to the threats that surround him.
Donald Trump doesn't protect America, he just protects himself.
No one, it is safe to say, has ever turned to trump for reassurance or compassion. We have simply been on our own since this thing first hit.
Thankfully, to my surprise, I discovered recently that I'm not that afraid of it. Oh, I resent its arrival and what it's doing to the world (and to people I love) and I'm cautious about not contracting it, but I'm really not scared.
The feelings I've been having about this crisis lately aren't anxiety, I realized recently. Instead, they feel lower key and longer-lasting. I realized recently that I've been feeling grief.
Grief has five stages, according to the famous model by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. First, there's denial (this isn't happening) then anger (how dare this happen!) then depression (I'll never get over it) then bargaining (can I have a miracle?) then acceptance (this happened and it has to be faced and accepted).
I think a lot of people have been through these five stages of grief in the past few weeks of the Trump presidency. Because what makes life during this pandemic and this presidency particularly hard to take is that it's not just what coronavirus or Trump could do to us, it's what it both have done to the nation and the democracy that we all took for granted.
We can't go to the movies now, and we won't be able to for at least a year. Think about that. What is America without its dream factory? All those superheroes coming to save us, all those thrillers and comedies and horror and romances?
We can't go to the theaters (Broadway is shuttered through June, and the closure is likely to last even longer). What will happen to our own Irish theaters and performance spaces here in the city, and what will happen to the artists who perform in them?
We can't go out to the bars and restaurants. The truth of the situation has to be faced, we will have to avoid any place where large numbers of people congregate until there's a vaccine, which may be a year off.
What happens to the businesspeople and bar and restaurant staff? What happens to our Friday night out?
We can't all get back on planes and travel in huge numbers to those places in the sun that we all dream of through the working year. We can't safely stand in the middle of a huge DHS security line now waiting to have our bags x-rayed and our passports scanned.
Swimming pools, gyms, rock concerts, mass, public parades, even subway rides at rush hour are all potential places of contagion. To wit, New York City and the USA. What we love is what we have to avoid now. It's the world, our world, turned upside down.
I wish that our president was further ahead in his understanding of exactly what has happened to the nation, but he's too busy promoting snake oil cures like hydroxychloroquine and insanely talking about reopening the country by Easter Sunday.
500,000 Americans were sick and over 25,000 Americans were dead on Easter Sunday. How long will it take for this oaf to grasp the sheer scale of the catastrophe we are facing?
.@kaitlancollins: "You said when someone is president of the United States their authority is total. That is not true. Who told you that?"
President Trump: "We're going to write up papers on this...the governors need us one way or the other..." pic.twitter.com/fg1nacXbPA— CSPAN (@cspan) April 13, 2020
I feel real grief about the end of the world that we knew because however this eventually ends, we will no longer be the nation or the world that we grew up in. Things we took for granted all our lives will be things we must think twice now about for the rest of our lives.
A simple thing like ordinary trust has been stripped away from us. Of all the terrible things that have happened during this ghastly presidency, I think that the loss of this last sense of security and trust has been the worst.
If that's not a reason to feel grief, what is?
Read more: Coronavirus live updates from Ireland