Read carefully the attached article by Pete McMartin. His main argument here is that in the current Covid 19 pandemic we are NOT “in this together” as is often claimed by the media, advertisers, or celebrities. To what extent do you agree with his argument? (Keep in mind that the article appeared in the early stage of the pandemic.)
Write a short 400-700 word essay developing your response to Martin’s position. Make sure to clearly re-state Martin’s main point in your intro and formulate your own response to it at the end of your opening paragraph. Remember that you can either fully agree or disagree with him. You can also agree, but only to an extent, thus providing a more nuanced response. Use TWO main body paragraphs to develop your argument more thoroughly and a brief conclusion to wrap up your discussion. Since this essay argues your own points, USE FIRST PERSON (I, in my view, etc..) You can also use anecdotal evidence based on your own experience.
There is one more topic for your diagnostic essay posted in the topics and assignment attachment below. The essay is due Tuesday, January 12, at 10 pm. Its grade value is 5%. Please double-space and provide the word count. Failure to comply will result in getting a zero for this assignment.
Here’s a phrase I’ve had trouble with: “We’re all in this together.”
To date, our most effective antidote to the coronavirus is a platitude. Science hasn’t conquered COVID yet, so we’ve weaponized sentiment. “Togetherness” is the theme of the daily news conferences during which they count up the dead, and it’s the go-to sentiment of celebrities who flock to that last window of self-absorption left to them, Twitter.
It’s a little sad to see all those stars squeezing their outsized egos onto the small screen, reduced literally in the public eye, needier than ever, incapable of shutting up if just for a few months while the rest of us wrestle with an existential threat. How jarring for them it must be that they — like hair stylists, like airline employees, like me — are “non-essential,” and may continue to be in a less-distracted post-COVID world, one in which the virus has clarified for us what’s really important and what isn’t. Could the pandemic kill the appetite for the Kardashians? Might it end Oprah’s godhood? Fingers crossed.
(I should correct a mistake I made in that last paragraph: If this pandemic has done anything, it’s showed how extremely essential hair stylists have proven to be, as anyone who has cut their own hair during the pandemic can attest. Mine appears to have been styled by lawnmower.)
Celebrities, unwittingly in most cases, embody the paradox the virus has wrought. On the one hand, they can contract it just like anyone else. Tom Hanks is Exhibit A. On the other, their money and fame insulate them from the virus to a degree the rest of us can only dream of, and guarantees them the best health care if they do contract it. I’m betting Hanks did not have to worry about a shortage of ventilators. Hanks, true to form, tweeted about his treatment.
While self-isolating at home, Ellen DeGeneres, for example, tweeted it was like being “in jail”. Chafing at confinement is a common sentiment, and in that, DeGeneres was just like the rest of us. But her jail was a $27-million hilltop mansion with an ocean view, infinity swimming pool and 10 bathrooms — far removed from real jails where real people were actually dying from COVID.
And Madonna, inspired by her own self-isolation, mused in a now-infamous Instagram video, in which she soaked nude in a rose-petal bath, that the virus “doesn’t care about how rich you are, how famous you are, how funny you are, how smart you are, where you live, how old you are, (or) what amazing stories you can tell.” Or, I guess, how tone deaf and out of touch you are, since every word she uttered was complete bullshit.
Of course COVID cares about how rich you are, if COVID could be characterized as “caring”. Money buys space, puts food on the table, pays the bills, guarantees the best health care. It neutralizes a whole lot of worry.
Yes, we are all in this together because we all bear a societal responsibility to keep ourselves and those around us virus-free — not that all of us believe even that, if the idiot protesters braying about governments trampling on their freedoms are any proof.
But it’s facile to suggest that our experience of the pandemic is in any way a collective one. Age, income, profession, geography, housing, access to space, preexisting medical conditions, race … all of them are variables that can effect the chances of infection.
And there are degrees of these chances across the whole spectrum of society. A suburbanite’s experience of the pandemic is nothing like that of an urbanite. The experience of a pensioned retiree is radically different than that of a millennial who has been laid off. A homeowner’s experience is nothing like that of an apartment dweller’s — a difference brought home to me by a friend living in a downtown condo who begged to come out to our place in Tsawwassen so she might walk on the tidal flats and for the first time in weeks take in space — something I had been taking for granted since the pandemic’s start.
And then of course there are the doctors and nurses, the truck drivers, the postmen, the cashiers — those workers who comprise the public interface — who must work because their callings demand it or their finances dictate it. The young independent contractor who renovated my kitchen last year went back to work after a month of self-isolation because, he said, shrugging, “I gotta feed my kids.” There’s no arguing against that, and it would be craven to scold him for breaking self-isolation. He had to make the impossible choice between infection or hunger and bankruptcy. There are millions like him. And so at 7 p.m. every night, we go outside and bang pots and blow horns to honour them, and show what we believe to be our solidarity with them. And I am among them, because there are three nurses in our family, and I think, “What can it hurt?”
But this is what our society does now, make these professed heartfelt gestures, ones that I’ve always found suspect, like the laying of flowers by complete strangers at the sites of tragedy, as if they could somehow internalize the pain of those in mourning. To me, it was symptomatic of a society that had lost touch with real tragedy, that had narcotized itself with celebrity and unreality to the point it believed it could experience tragedy vicariously.
I suspect platitudes and gestures will not be enough if the pandemic lengthens, if it affects, say, food supplies. Will we still have the appetite to bang pots and blow horns? What happens when, truly, we will all be in it together but at our individual peril?
Pete McMartin is a former Vancouver Sun columnist. For more information on Developing A Response see this: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/response
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