By Larry Feinstein

Image courtesy of UH

I know I write about age, my own, far too often. I think it would be terribly annoying if I complained about it, which I never have. One of the things time does is provide perspective, adding the dimension of experience. At present, we are drowning with a flood of information about this deadly virus and yet, we still don’t seem to know very much about it. This void has been a breeding ground for a level of fear that feels eerily familiar to me.

I have lived through two other moments when it felt like the entire world froze mid-step, a nuclear, split second between inhalation and exhalation. The map of life misplaced its compass. We feel like we are living in a vacuum, everything familiar becomes invisible. It is a very dangerous precipice, beckoning our next step over the edge.

I was a sophomore at Queens College in NYC. It was the middle of mid-term exams. On Nov. 22, 1963, I was sitting in a classroom and we were told that President Kennedy had been shot, and we had to leave campus. It was such a different time back then. The Vietnam War was slowly building, and college campuses were coming awake to the insanity of this conflict. All of a sudden, this picture-perfect guy is now the president. He spoke with an eloquence that captured the hearts and minds of many young people, especially in my world. There was such an innocence back then, many believing the beautiful fantasy of Camelot had actually come to life.

I immediately went home from school, because there were no dorms in these city schools. My mother was the bookkeeper at Hillcrest Jewish Center, and she left work. My brother was a senior at Queens, and he came home. We turned on TV, along with millions of people in the US and all over the world. The TV news anchors, like Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley, were people we could trust. We were in shock, waiting on their every word. Days later, when little John Jr. saluted the casket as his slain daddy passed by, I cried and cried.

During those history-making weeks, including the on-camera murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, we lived in that in-between-time, the world stunned and immobilized. It was very frightening.

I was living in northern New Mexico in an extremely funky, adobe home. It was just south of Espanola. It was easy to drive by the small green sign on the right that said, La Puebla, as if it was a town, which it was not. I was pretty isolated, off a couple of dirt roads, an aloneness and shocking quiet I had grown to love. On the morning of September 11, 2001, my friend Michael called me and told me to turn on the TV. I don’t even remember if he told me why. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, like repeatedly watching JFK get his brains blown out in Dallas years before.

I reconnected with that earlier time, feeling loss, confusion and fear. This go around, fear was much more palpable, because it was an attack, an assassination of thousands. Unlike before, blame became weaponized. Internalized fear manifests as worry and anxiety, symptomatic of the reaction to Kennedy’s loss. When fear is externalized, it mutates into anger, often a lethal exaggeration of emotion. It was important to create a target, as it turned out, a deadly gimmick. I have always considered it a lost moment, a time when the world could have come together and finally understood the futility of violence. I understand now it was far too late, because there were invisible forces at play that stood to profit from mindless conflict. It was a different kind of naiveté this second time around, and far more lethal.

These days, we have become more fearful than ever. The outgoing president in Our House personifies a simpleton’s set of symptoms. He grew up a spoiled, little rich boy, a failure at everything he tried. He owned a passport for the privileged, allowing him to travel freely through the halls of power, becoming an errand boy for those with far more money and a deviousness that put him to shame. His white boy, fraternity paddled all us lesser beings into a submissive mass of subservient, fearful ooze.

A mantra of separateness has been promoted by those puppeteers in their board rooms and private estates, because it is good for business. They have everything they need, and they’ve been busy for years, manipulating our elected servants to stack the deck against us and our environment.

Finally, I can now get to this damn virus and what has really roiled me, taking me on a forced march down memory lane.

I really don’t give a damn about my privacy, but I do care about everyone else’s and let me tell you, it’s painful to leave all others out of my stories. There is a very special person in my life, and something happened to her recently, which ignited this story. She is a brilliant writer, a very rare talent and fearless in what she chooses to share, a mixed blessing in my book, but it ain’t my book. She wrote about being tested for THE virus recently, and did so the instant she felt any symptoms. This beautifully written admission unleashed a torrent of vitriol, tapping into that externalized manifestation of fear.

Larry Feinstein

For the life of me, I don’t know why it is so much easier for us to look for others to blame, more comfortable in separation than compassion. Like those times in my past, I remember the fear and how it could have been used to bring us all together. This time, we shouldn’t let it eat our insides, nor should we weaponize it.

Right now, right now, we are all in this together and it is a time to care for each other and about each other. I know I don’t have that many readers, but I am sharing this as if I have a million followers, because it’s a message about making a difference. Thank you.


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