I recently re-read “Expecting the Barbarians” by one of my favorite poets, Constantine Cavafy. The very idea of barbarians arriving set me thinking about our current Covid situation and its affect on how we’re living.
The barbarians arrived, all right. But they aren’t a savage horde of muscled brutes. They don’t have death dealing weapons of bronze or iron or steel. Hell, they don’t even have beards.
Instead, they’re a savage hoard of teeny tiny, near invisible killers just looking for lebensraum. Too bad that their lebensraum of choice is us.
Oh yes, the barbarians have arrived, and like barbarians of old, those brutes with swords and beards, these new barbarians turn civilization to ashes. Because that’s what barbarians do. Those they don’t kill by blood, they murder by suffocating the sweetness of life. They obliterate by severing our blood ties, our heart’s ties, our hi-how-ya-doin’-let’s-go-get-a-pizza ties. They shrink us, they cramp us. They make survival lonely.
It will take the best of us to drive the barbarians out. We can do it because barbarians are historically stupid. The current barbarians are mindless. We can’t be stupid. We must mind, or we will turn our civilization to ashes and become barbarians, too.